Israel’s COVID-19 Lockdown Will Continue at Least Until October 18

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Photo by Eitan Elhadaz/TPS on 5 October, 2020

By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 6 October, 2020

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the Corona Cabinet on Monday evening for a discussion on the effects of the second countrywide lockdown Israel has been under for the past two weeks.

The meeting lasted for five hours but no significant decisions were made.

National Security Council (NSC) head Meir Ben-Shabbat, national coronavirus project manager Prof. Ronni Gamzu, professional elements and experts said that the situation regarding morbidity and accurate data would only become clearer next week and therefore measures to modify the lockdown should be avoided at this time.

The Corona Cabinet will convene next Monday when a comprehensive picture of the morbidity and movement data will be presented.

Even if a decision to modify the lockdown is made on Monday, Israel is expected to remain under a full lockdown at least until the weekend of October 18.

Netanyahu said at the beginning of the meeting that “we are all obligated to uphold the rules regarding gatherings and the other rules related to the coronavirus routine. This includes ministers, MKs and all public servants. Regarding Minister Gamliel, I suggest that we wait with the conclusions until the completion of the check now being carried out at the Health Ministry.”

Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel tested positive to COVID-19 last week. She initially claimed that she had contracted the virus from her diver. However, it was exposed that she had prayed at a synagogue in Tiberius on Yom Kippur where she was infected, acting in breach of the lockdown.

She apologized and said she would pay a fine but declined to resign. The police announced it had launched an investigation into the incident.

Similarly, Member of Knesset (MK) Mickey Levi was found to have visited his son during the first day of Sukkot. Levi, a former senior police officer, apologized and said he would pay a fine and resign his position on the Knesset’s special Corona committee.

Following several mass public violations of the Corona regulations, Netanyahu called on “both the ultra-orthodox and the secular publics, on all citizens of Israel, to honor the rules. We want a uniform honoring and enforcement of the rules. There is an attempt here to do this despite the great difficulty inherent in the matter. In the end, we need the cooperation of the citizens of Israel and of public leaders.”

Noting the slight drop in the infection rate in the country, he said that “there is cautious optimism but that I am more cautious than the cautious. I think that we have learned that it is worthwhile to work in a very measured and orderly manner,” and therefore he does not intend to bring the easing or intensification of restrictions regarding the lockdown until Monday.

He expressed hope that Israel is “on a downward trend. We could easily miss it and we can also strengthen it only if we act rationally and responsibly.”

The Ministry of Health updated Tuesday morning that it recoded 5,647 new Corona cases in the past day, bringing the total number of active patients to 63,305, with the positive test rate staying at around 11%.

Some 875 of the patients are hospitalized in critical condition, 220 of whom are on life support.

A total of 273,826 of Israelis have contracted the virus since the outbreak in February, 1,757 who have died,  an increase of 38 deaths since Monday morning.

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