by: Janet Aslin
Tuesday, 3 August 2021 | Israel’s coronavirus cabinet will meet today to consider additional restrictions as the number of new coronavirus cases soared to 3,161 on Monday, an infection level not reached since March.
Just six weeks ago, Israel appeared to have achieved herd immunity with very low daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases and fewer than 250 active cases in the entire country. Then the Delta variant made its appearance and Israel began its fourth wave of COVID infections.
Nachman Ash, director general of the Health Ministry, said at a press briefing yesterday, “The situation is worrying.” He spoke of possible options that can be taken in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic while still allowing Israelis to live normally.
The requirement to wear a mask indoors, briefly removed in mid-June, has been in effect since the numbers began to rise. Recently, the government announced that it would begin enforcing that requirement on public transportation and fining those who are not compliant.
Last Thursday, the Green Pass system, which allows the entry of only vaccinated, recovered or those with a negative PCR test, was reintroduced for events of more than 100 people. The cabinet will discuss applying this restriction to gatherings of less than 100 people as well as removing the exemption for young children.
Another area where restrictions may be increased is the list of “high risk” countries from which all arriving travelers, vaccinated or not, must enter a mandatory seven-day quarantine. At present, there are 18 countries on the list with an additional 14 countries Israelis are forbidden to visit unless they have received special permission.
Israel began offering a third booster shot to residents over the age of 60, and the response has been good. At the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, “It is hard to exaggerate the importance of the third vaccination. Due to the Delta pandemic, we are seeing a great magnitude of infection around the world.”
Bennett went on to say that his mother planned to get her booster shot on Monday and encouraged everyone to make sure their parents received the third shot. “Now there is the new mitzvah [good deed done out of religious duty]—vaccinate your father and mother,” he said.
As Israel approaches its major holiday season in September, there has been speculation of a possible lockdown. In response, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told the Times of Israel, “I don’t want a lockdown and will refrain [from] a lockdown at all costs. There were terrible consequences.”
Posted on August 3, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 3, 2021)
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