PM Bennett: ‘We do not want to return to days of lockdowns’

June 24, 2021 by TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced during a Coronavirus (COVID-19) assessment and tour of Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday that he will re-establish a corona cabinet and implement tighter restrictions in response to the recent spike in cases across the country and the Delta (Indian) variant spreading rapidly.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennet at the 15th Jerusalem Conference. Feb 12, 2018. Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS *

The Health Ministry said there are currently 554 active cases in Israel and there were over 100 new cases counted on Tuesday, for the second day in a row. Sixty-four of the new cases reported on Tuesday were children and teens, and 14 of them were Israelis who recently returned from abroad.

Bennett met with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, the head of the National Security Council, and other officials for a session on the pandemic.

Bennett said at the meeting the Delta variant infects people at a 50% higher rate and more quickly than the original coronavirus. He said this variant has infected some people who have already been vaccinated, even though the Pfizer vaccine still protects people at a high rate.

He said he will “be transparent with all Israelis” in the next few days by providing a roadmap plan that will outline what precautions everyone should take if the outbreak in the country reaches a certain level.

Bennett announced everyone who comes into Ben Gurion Airport will be required to wear a mask inside and get a PCR test.

“We are aware of, and have seen, the lines; therefore, two or three days ago we directed that the number of testing stands be increased and this has already been done,” he said. “We increased the number of testing stands from 30 to 70 and we will increase it further as necessary so that the lines will not be too long.”

Bennett advised everyone to refrain from travelling abroad unless it is essential and necessary, and there will likely be significant changes in the policy for entering and leaving Israel.

He also urged children and young people aged 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves from the virus and “the danger from the disease is immeasurably higher than the risk from the vaccine.”

“In the US, approximately 2-2.5 million children have already been vaccinated and we have not seen large-scaled side effects,” Bennet said. “I can tell you, as the father of children this age, I am taking my children to be vaccinated. The Interior Minister has updated me that her children have already been vaccinated.”

Approximately 57% of all Israel’s population, or 5.15 million people, have been fully vaccinated and about 61% have received one dose.

Bennett said most of the vaccines Israel has in stock will expire by the end of July, and therefore, anyone who is not vaccinated by July 9 will not be able to get a second shot on time, noting that the pace of vaccinations is poor among young people.

He said only 2,000 young people are being vaccinated a day while 20,000 need to be vaccinated a day in order to meet their goal of ending the spread.

Bennett is also recommending that everyone, including government ministers and public leaders, wear masks in indoor spaces especially if the daily COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

He will also extend the mobilization of 270 quarantine inspectors for those who are coming into the country and urged Israelis to follow quarantine guidelines.

“We do not want to return to the days of general lockdown or lockdowns on cities,” he said. “We can avoid this. It depends on you alone. If we all look at the bigger picture and think, we will understand that poor behaviour on our part will hurt others. We can defeat the coronavirus without draconian measures.”


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