The Israeli cabinet has decided to keep schools open until Friday, overriding a prior announcement that schools would be closed as of Wednesday in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Sunday’s decision was strongly urged by Education Minister Yoav Gallant, according to reports.
The announcement comes just ahead of an expected decision on Sunday evening regarding a nationwide lockdown during the days of Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. Amid much disagreement a majority of ministers are reportedly prepared to approve a lockdown of yet-unspecified severity.
Likud Ministers Zeev Elkin and Yuval Steinitz criticized the Health Ministry, in particular coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu’s, handling of the crisis.
“Nice of you to raise the red flag now, when the hospitals are starting to be jammed full. You should have raised that flag a month or two ago,” said Steinitz, who has been advocating a broad lockdown for some time.
Elkin accused Gamzu of inconsistency. “You’re zigzagging all the time, from the ‘traffic light’ plan two weeks ago to the full lockdown plan today. The ‘experts’ are constantly changing their recommendations without any clear parameters. Even now, they haven’t given us any clear criteria for when we’ll end the lockdown and move on to the second stage.”
The plan, as it currently stands, would impose a two-week nationwide lockdown beginning this Friday morning. During the lockdown, residents will be barred from walking more than 500 yards from their homes. Essential needs, such as food and medicine purchases, will be permitted.