During a Thursday assessment of the coronavirus and the Omicron strain with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and senior Health Ministry officials, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the healthcare system professionals to examine options for imposing restrictions on the Corona unvaccinated in Israel. Among the proposals made by Bennett were a lockdown on the unvaccinated and closing down Ben Gurion Airport, which provoked a heated debate that deteriorated into a shouting match between the minister and the PM.
Health Ministry officials sharply criticized Bennett’s proposals and Minister Horowitz and his staff called them “unreasonable” and compared the idea of imposing a lockdown on the unvaccinated to forced vaccinations. Medical sources that were present at the meeting told Ynet it was doubtful whether the PM’s proposals had a constitutional anchor in a democracy. According to them, “Bennett’s positions were dramatically extreme. He lost it.”
According to Kan 11 News, Bennett said behind closed doors following the unpleasant event with his health minister: “Every step we take now can prevent a week of a lockdown. We want to buy time and get a massive vaccination. The thing that works is the Green Pass, it was the drive for vaccination.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said that the barcode Green Pass enforcement will be enhanced, with summonses to be issued without a warning for violation of the rules. This will be carried out by the Ministry of Internal Security with the Israel Police.
The PM and Health Minister met again overnight Friday, and in consideration of the continued increase in the coefficient of infection (as of Friday morning it’s at 1.09), agreed on extending the restrictions currently imposed at Ben Gurion Airport for another ten days, and the ban on incoming foreign tourists was also extended.
The Corona cabinet also discussed the possibility of imposing the Green Pass in shopping malls, extending the quarantine time for Israelis returning from abroad, freezing the Green Class model, and imposing restrictions on those who are not vaccinated and choose to fly abroad. The decisions on these issues have been postponed for next week.
Restricting access to the malls is problematic because inside the malls are food stores and pharmacies, which are essential businesses where one may shop without a Green Pass. The solution that has been proposed is that holders of a vaccine certificate or a valid PCR test will receive a bracelet allowing them to enter all the stores in a given mall, and those who do not have a Green Pass will be allowed to enter only the essential stores.
Meanwhile, despite the rise in new confirmed cases in Israel, the number of critical Corona patients in Israeli hospitals continues to go down. There are currently only 90 Corona patients in serious condition, 64 of them critical, 20 connected to Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, and 55 on respirators.