by: Itamar Eichner
Wednesday, 14 October 2020 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday agreed to extend the lockdown until Sunday at midnight, though changes could be made during the next cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday.
Emergency regulations banning demonstrations and religious worship at a distance of no more than one kilometer from home are set to expire at midnight [on Sunday].
The coronavirus cabinet did not decide on reopening kindergartens and schools for first and second graders or small businesses.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that the delay stemmed from the still rather high coronavirus infection rate and a lack of final data on the holiday’s influence on national morbidity.
During Tuesday’s hours-long meeting that began after a three-hour delay, ministers heard the recommendation of the head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabbat, to extend the lockdown until Monday in order to [further reduce] morbidity.
The Health Ministry announced earlier that the rate of positivity for coronavirus testing had dropped to 4.9%, the lowest since early July.
Ben Shabbat also recommended a nighttime curfew to be imposed as part of the government’s exit strategy for the lockdown, which has been in place since mid-September.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned that a hasty exit would result in a third lockdown.
“We will surely have to continue closures on red cities,” Edelstein said. “We will have to live in the shadow of the virus for many more months to come,” he said.
Finance Minister Israel Katz advocated a rapid opening of workplaces without public interaction. “These places know how to protect themselves and follow health directives,” Katz said.
During the meeting, ministers were presented with data from the NSC showing that if the morbidity rate remains below 2,000 daily new cases, the number of seriously ill would be expected to reach 60 and 15 people would likely die.
The council also warned of the long-term damage to the health system caused by medical teams being overwhelmed by the number of patients and that the financial cost to the country of 2,000 new cases every day would be great with an estimated 84,000 work days lost because of illness and quarantine.
Posted on October 14, 2020
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