How’s life in countries where coronavirus vaccination is increasingly a success story? Meanwhile asked CNN’s Lauren Kent about the UK, the first country in the world to start vaccinating citizens, and Sam Kiley about Israel, which leads the world in vaccination speed.
“A strong scent of marijuana drifts down the tight alleys of Jaffa’s flea market,” writes Kiley from Jaffa. “Drinking or dining in is out under Covid regulations. But ‘deliveries’ to clients in plastic chairs, using beer crates for tables on the uneven streets, mean beer and laughter flow with the easy joy of a summer festival. Jaffa, a neighborhood on the southern edge of Tel Aviv, prides itself on its ethnic mix of Jewish and Arab Israelis and its ability to make fun … a commodity that’s been in short supply through weeks of lockdown.
“As Covid regulations are now being partly lifted, no moment to wander the street, chat with friends and share a space with strangers is going to waste. Schools in areas not badly affected by the pandemic are opening. Traffic is back choking streets. And the shutters of ‘nonessential shops’ are gingerly being lifted to a world of unfamiliar normality.
“Israel is beating the planet in vaccine delivery. More than 4.5 million residents here have had their first shots, and 3.1 million have had both. The government is aiming for herd immunity: more than 70% of people vaccinated. But it is running into problems in Arab and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities who have been misled by disinformation from religious leaders and the internet.
“Authorities are offering incentives to those slow to accept the needle. In Tel Aviv, this has meant one bar offering a ‘shot for a shot.’ In Bnei-Barak, a bowl of stew has been offered to get the Ultra-Orthodox refuseniks over their reservations. By way of stick if those carrots don’t work, the government has said people will be admitted to gyms and other crowded environments only if they can show a vaccine certificate.
“The idea hasn’t been put to the test seriously yet. It might work, but here everyone knows Israelis are good in a crisis; at obeying rules … not so much.”
From London, Kent writes, “Days and weeks have started to blend together in England, where we have been in a third national lockdown since January 4. But this week felt like a turning point — more than 18 million people in the UK have received their first vaccine dose, hospital admissions are down 20% compared to last week and the dreary British weather finally shifted toward something resembling spring.
“By now, many Londoners have a parent or grandparent who has received the vaccine. If they are 64 and older, they have been offered it themselves. And with a new road map for easing restrictions, we are finally able to put some future plans in the calendar. Still, it’s not all sunshine and AstraZeneca shots.
“The fast-spreading UK coronavirus variant has caused another wave of grief across the country, and for lots of us, weeks of isolation are starting to take their toll. Many friends have fled London to hunker down with their families in the suburbs, or moved out of the city for good. But as the government makes progress toward its goal of vaccinating every adult by the end of July, it finally feels like brighter (and hopefully warmer) days are ahead.”