Infrastructure and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called Monday on the government to impose a new nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has been spreading in recent weeks.
Steinitz said in an interview with Yediot Acharonot that Israel had reopened its economy too quickly following the first wave of the coronavirus, and now risked serious long-term economic damage due to the ban on air travel to and from Europe.
“Aerial disconnection from the world is financially dangerous,” he said. “Sometimes it is better to make it difficult for ourselves for two weeks in order to make it easier for the rest of the year.”
Steinitz warned that the “disconnection” from Europe over a period of two to three months could cause serious damage to the Israeli economy.
The minister also said news reports on the number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus had frightened shoppers, leading many to remain at home, further damaging the economy.
“The public sees the number of infected and is afraid to go out shopping, we must reduce the contagion rate to improve the economy.”
While the Israeli government has recently imposed local lockdowns on some cities and neighborhoods, Steinitz said that these measures were insufficient to curb the spread of the virus.
Steinitz urged the government to impose another nationwide lockdown, albeit for a shorter period of time than the lockdown in April.
Under his proposal, the government would impose a countrywide lockdown for 10 days, but would allow some people to leave their homes to go to work.
Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has offered to lead Israel’s response to the coronavirus, according to Yediot Acharonot.
On Sunday, Major General (res.) Roni Numa refused an offer to lead the country’s efforts to combat the pandemic.
After Numa turned down the offer, Eizenkot discussed the possibility of taking on the position himself, according to the report.
Numa turned down the Health Ministry’s offer for him to manage the response to the coronavirus after Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and ministry Director-General Chezi Levy refused to grant him the full authority he had requested. According to the report, Eizenkot specified that he would only take on the position if it was given to him directly by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, rather than Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.
Numa successfully managed the government’s efforts to combat coronavirus outbreaks in Bnei Brak, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and the first city placed under lockdown.