Israel Poised to Reinstate Mask Wearing

Israel’s coronavirus commissioner Prof. Nachman Ash. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The most definite statement so far about the reimposition of mask-wearing came from the national coronavirus coordinator Prof. Nachman Ash on Thursday.

Ash said the change would be effective next week, but did not specify which day, and apparently no formal decision has made by the government.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier in the week that if the weekly average number of verified cases of Covid-19 in Israel reached 100 a day, masks would be required. Ash said the current average was 75. Ash also said that the Ministry of Health was working on bringing forward a consignment of vaccines to August, and that there were no further orders of vaccines in place, according to media reports.

However, Ash said that there was currently no intention of returning to location monitoring by the Israel Security Agency, and that there was no recommendation at present to limit gatherings.

“We are adding the use of masks. Besides that there are no other restrictions in Israel. If morbidity rises we’ll recommend limiting gatherings of people – we still don’t know at what stage and at what level,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Health Ministry’s Public Health Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis told reporters 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.”

Alroy-Preis stressed that the ministry was not taken by surprise. “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.”

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