Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis in remarks broadcast on national television Thursday night that once again, the spread of the novel coronavirus is moving too fast.
“We need to change direction,” Netanyahu said, “right now.” (ed. note: video is in Hebrew)
At the beginning of this week, he noted, health officials were seeing some 450 new cases of the virus per day — now, that figure has reached “nearly 1,000 new cases a day… We have to flatten the curve,” he warned.
In order to do that, Netanyahu announced bad news: the reinstatement of restrictions on events, weddings, restaurants and bars, with limitations on the number of people allowed at each venue.
A maximum capacity of 50 is to be allowed at bars, wedding halls and clubs; no more than 20 people at all other gatherings. Further details are to follow.
“This is an emergency situation,” said Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, who joined the prime minister at the briefing. “The situation is not ideal. We have medical personnel working around the clock, and there is no expert who does not believe we can still improve what we are doing.
“Already in the past four days, we have increased our testing to more than 20,000 tests per day. We are able to produce results within 26 hours after performing the test; not outstanding but better than it was.
“This effort must be a joint effort between us all,” Edelstein said. “Until this generation, we have rarely merited to have with us the elders from our previous generations — our grandparents and sometimes even great-grandparents. Please, let us treasure them and do what we can to protect them.
“I do not lose hope, and I think not of a ‘coronavirus routine,'” he said in a clear swipe at Defense Minister Benny Gantz, “but rather think of a post-coronavirus routine, one without a mask, in which we can hug our grandparents.
“We have met great challenges and succeeded up to this point; we can also meet this one as well!”