Bennett: We’ll Begin Reopening Economy After Pesach

Minister Naftali Bennett. (Flash90)

The cure for coronavirus must not be worse than the disease itself, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. Relating to an incident earlier in which a coronavirus patient jumped out of the window of his room at Poriya Medical Center in northern Israel, Bennett said Tuesday that “if we do not manage the crisis properly we may end up having more deaths from suicide than from coronavirus.”

Bennett, as defense minister, has been giving daily briefings on coronavirus, after his ministry was given partial responsibility for enforcing the quarantine on Israelis. Beginning Tuesday, some 700 soldiers will be assisting police in patrolling cities and towns, ensuring that the latest rules on social distancing and quarantine are observed.

In the incident Tuesday morning, a 34-year-old patient jumped out of an upper-story window at the hospital, after being diagnosed with a serious case of coronavirus. Hospital officials said the man was depressed, and had spoken with staff and social workers several times about his situation. He was found on the ground unconscious, and was taken back into the hospital, where he will require an operation, officials said.

In order to prevent more such occurrences, Israelis needed hope that things would get back to normal – and Bennett said that the government intended to do that. “On the weekend after Pesach we will begin reopening the economy. I believe that we can quickly revive the economy. The private sector will be at the heart of this revival.

“We are at the point where we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel on coronavirus,” Bennett said. “All government agencies have been doing an excellent job of ensuring that quarantine is kept. Our main objective now is to create conditions in which we can control the pandemic and reopen Israel. After Pesach we will begin to reopen the economy, first releasing the young people back to their lives, then the older people.

The reopening will be done under supervision” to ensure that there is not another outbreak, Bennett said, adding that unlike others in the government – such as Director General of the Health Ministry Moshe Bar Simantov – he was not in favor of a complete closure of all businesses. “There is a debate about that in the government right now. I do not believe that we need to further close businesses, the outbreaks are not occurring there,” Bennett added.