Health Official: Israel to Bring Back Indoor Mask Mandate Next Week

A man wears a protective face masks as he walks through the Carmel market in Tel Aviv in September 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
שוק הכרמל

Israel is likely to reinstate the indoor mask mandate from Sunday due to resurgence of COVID-19 in the country, a senior health official said.

The Health Ministry said on Thursday the daily number of new coronavirus cases has surpassed 100 for the third day in a row following two mass coronavirus outbreaks in schools in Binyamina and Modi’in last week.

Health Ministry’s Public Health Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis told Yediot on Thursday that the ministry will likely recommend the reinstating of the mandate next week and it will be up to the government to implement it.

“A decision has been made that once we have a daily average of 100 cases over one week, we will bring back masks to confined spaces,” she said. “I assume this will happen as early as Sunday in light of the very fast spread we are seeing.”

Her comments came less than 24 hours after she said during a press conference that if Israel would see over 100 new COVID patients for several days in a row, the mask mandate will return.

“We were always ready for it, we kept saying, ‘The pandemic is not behind us’. We keep monitoring, checking, closing borders and doing everything because this thing can come back.”

Dr. Alroy-Preis added, however, that the Health Ministry can only recommend which steps to take and the task of enforcement lies solely with the government.

“We must remember the Health Ministry is not the enforcement body in the State of Israel. The problem here is enforcement and not something else. We have a very clear policy on which places Israelis should not travel to, but it should be enforced. It’s really our Achilles heel.”

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