Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein pulled no punches Sunday, stating bluntly in a briefing held at the ministry offices that a second wave of the novel coronavirus is already here.
“I am sorry to say that people have not been attentive enough and I have had to present the government with a plan to fight the rise in infections by once again imposing limitations on the public,” Edelstein told reporters.
“After careful consideration and at the advice of professionals we at the Ministry of Health have agreed that we must limit gathering at weddings, in synagogues and celebrations… Universities will have to hold their end-of-term exams remotely to protect the health of students and their families,” he said.
Government agencies and the public sector are being asked to keep 70 percent of their employees working remotely from home, Edelstein said, adding, “I encourage the private sector to do the same.”
The minister said he will insist that his proposed plan be accepted by the coronavirus cabinet in it meeting on Monday.
Health and Finance Ministry officials are expected to advise the government:
- to limit all public gatherings to fewer than 50 people
- to seek some way to reduce classroom size at summer schools
- to increase enforcement of health guidelines
- to pass a bill giving local municipalities authority to shut down businesses that don’t comply with COVID-19 regulations.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the maximum time for return of COVID-19 test results be reduced to no more than 12 hours. In addition, he instructed the epidemiologic investigation process be reduced to no more than 48 hours.
Another meeting of the Coronavirus Cabinet is set to take place on Monday.