Netanyahu: If Public Won’t Wear Masks, We Will Need to Enforce Full Closure

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool via Reuters/File)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that if the Israel public “does not stick to wearing facemasks and social distancing, we will need to bring back full closure” at the opening of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu also said that “over the weekend I held consultations the CEOs of the relevant ministries and local government with the head of the NSC and various experts who gave assessments. They showed me different forecasts – and all of them are difficult.

“We are at the same time making every effort to attain a vaccine, but until then we have no choice but to maintain an informed policy to open the economy and manage life under the limitations of the corona routine.”

The Health Ministry on Sunday issued a directive to all hospitals to prepare for the immediate reopening of their coronavirus wards, as the number of infections in the country continued to grow.

“In light of a recent increase in the morbidity of the COVID-19 virus in recent weeks, an increase in the number of hospitalized patients, an increase in the cumulative number of severely ill patients, and an increase in the number of staff who are in isolation following exposure to patients and staff, the guideline is to prepare for the immediate opening of a single designated ward in the hospital,” wrote Dr. Sigal Liberant-Taub, Head of the General Medicine Division of the Ministry of Health.

A report by the IDF’s National Coronavirus Information and Knowledge Center released over the weekend warned that “the state of Israel is currently experiencing a second wave of coronavirus that differs in its characteristics from the first wave but is no less severe.”

The IDF’s Intelligence Division compiled the report using its unique technical abilities to reach its findings.

The report noted that over the past few weeks the number of new coronavirus infections has risen consistently. In the week of May 21-15, the average daily number of recorded infections was 16, and four weeks later, the daily average stands at 200.

The report cautions that if no actions are taken and the current rate of growth does not decrease significantly, remaining in the range of 4% to 8% per day, then in about a month, the number of new infections will be over 1,000 a day and the total number of deaths will reach “many hundreds.”

However, Deputy Director General of the Health Ministry Professor Itamar Grotto told Israel Radio on Sunday morning that “there is no reason to go back, we can open the economy” and continue with the easing of the COVID-19 related restrictions.

“You have to get used to living in the shadow of the coronavirus, and at the same time fight it as we know – epidemiological investigations, case location of infections and the use of masks,” he said.