Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday convened the Corona Cabinet that decided on additional restrictions with a message to the public: the Delta variant pandemic is much more infectious and is leaping ahead around the world. Avoid gatherings, and go get vaccinated now. Otherwise, there will be no other alternative than imposing deeper restrictions, including lockdowns.
The health ministry is concerned that 21 people have died from Corona in the first three days of August, compared with 50 who died from the virus in all of July. In addition, the coefficient of infection of patients in a severe condition stands at 1.45, while the coefficient of all the verified patients is at 1.36.
In response, the green tag requirements will be extended to all venues and all ages – meaning that if you weren’t vaccinated you don’t come in. The parents of children up to the age of 12 who became infected with corona will be forced to quarantine. The private sector is being asked to return to working from home. Masks will be required in open spaces—parks, etc.—with a gathering of a hundred people or more.
The cabinet is playing for time with these new restrictions, with the understanding that the third round of vaccinations for people over 60 will not slow down the rising morbidity, and that the million or so unvaccinated Israelis are not planning to rush to get inoculated. And so, in the very near future, Israel will once again go into lockdowns – despite the restrictions.
Enter the wonderful, helpful, chock full of holidays Jewish calendar which in September offers only a little more than a week’s worth of business days – the ideal month for a lockdown. Everybody stays home, but very little money is lost, comparatively, and by October, who knows, maybe we’ll be out of the crisis. So the challenge for the Lapid-Bennett government at this point is to get through the month of August relatively unscathed, declare a lockdown, and use the time to limit the spread of the virus while vaccinating everybody a third time. It could work.
With that in mind, these cabinet decisions will take effect on Sunday, August 8:
1. Expansion of the ‘Green Badge’ plan to places in which there are gatherings of less than 100 people of all ages (including under 12, effective Friday, 20 August, in order to complete the rapid testing network),
2. It will be required to wear masks also in open spaces in which there are gatherings of more than 100 people.
3. Government ministries (and the entire public sector, to the extent possible) will shift to a work footing of 50% presence in the ministry. Ministry Director Generals will be authorized to enact changes in exceptional circumstances.
4. It is recommended that the private sector shift to a work-at-home footing.
5. Vaccinated adults who care for minors under 12 or people who are unable to care for themselves, who are discovered to be verified cases, will be required to quarantine.
6. Enforcement will be stepped up regarding people violating quarantine or the requirement to wear masks.
7. Entering and exiting the country:
* Red countries – There will be a sweeping flight ban apart from special cases approved by the exceptions committee.
* Orange countries – The list of countries will be expanded to include most countries of the world; returnees (including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered) from these countries will be required to quarantine.
* Green countries – A very reduced list of green countries will be defined, the return from which will require quarantine until negative test results are received.
8. The public is called on to understand the situation and, therefore, to stop shaking hands, embracing and kissing, and avoid non-essential gatherings in closed spaces.
9. People over 60 are specially called upon to avoid gatherings and all meetings with unvaccinated people in closed spaces.