Israelis will not have to contend with a coronavirus lockdown this year on Rosh Hashana, according to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.
“We’ll spend Rosh Hashana together with the whole family,” she said Saturday in an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 News.
The Jewish New Year begins on the evening of September 6, and Shaked said no new restrictions are expected between now and then, even in synagogues where crowds always gather for the High Holy Days — although she added, “It is recommended that unvaccinated children get tested before the holiday meal.”
Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah all fall within the Hebrew calendar month of Tishrei, which this year also kicks off Shemittah, the Biblical mandate to allow the Holy Land to lie fallow every seventh year.
Shaked made no promises for the rest of Tishrei, and would not commit herself beyond measures for for Rosh Hashana.
She added that by next week, a third shot of vaccine will be open to everyone; she also said she is working to change the Green Pass rules so that “only those have been vaccinated in the last six months with the third shot can get a Green Pass.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told viewers Friday on Channel 12’s ‘Ofira & Berkovic’ show that his approach “from the beginning has been against lockdowns, and as few severe restrictions as possible.”
At this point, 1.9 million Israelis have received a third, “booster” shot of coronavirus vaccine. Last week the Health Ministry’s Advisory Committee for the Corona Vaccines expanded eligibility for the shot to those ages 30 and up.
Soon the committee is expected to vote on further expansion of eligibility to all Israelis ages 12 and up.
On Saturday night, the Health Ministry said 8,482 new cases of the virus were diagnosed, with a 6.65 percent positivity rate — somewhat higher than the rate just a day earlier.
The number of serious to critically ill patients rose to 703, not much higher than that registered on Friday. But of those on the “serious” list, 153 patients are relying on ventilators to survive.
On Friday 8,078 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed, resulting in a positivity rate of 5.7 percent — somewhat lower than rates earlier in the week but still very high.
Of the 1,086 Israelis currently hospitalized with the virus, 689 are listed in very serious to critical condition. The Israeli death toll from the start of the pandemic up to Friday stood at 6,943.
As of this weekend, 120 cities, towns, villages and local authority areas were still on the “red” list, forcing Israeli teens in grades eight to 12 to learn via Zoom classes — unless 70 percent or more of their classmates are vaccinated.
In the 12 to 15 year old population, only 30 percent of the students have received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. The rate is higher among older teens: 69 percent of Israelis ages 16 to 19 are fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash, who spoke with Channel N12’s ‘Meet the Press’ on Saturday night.