Bennett: Israel Will Tighten Restrictions If COVID Keeps Spreading

A medical technician holds COVID-19 rapid tests during a presentation at the Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

Israel will consider reintroducing further health restrictions if the coronavirus infection rate in the country continues to rise, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting.

Israel currently has 2,455 active cases – a massive increase from the 200 or so cases of two weeks ago.

The explosion in the infection rate is being attributed to the Delta variant, which is considerably more infectious than other strains of the virus, and a recent lack of oversight at Ben-Gurion Airport that saw thousands of Israelis return to the country without undergoing testing.

“In the past week there has been an increase in the rate of new coronavirus infections and thanks to previous lessons learned we are not waiting to protect the health our citizens. We must realize that the Delta strain is raging around the world with a far higher rate of infection than all the previous strains and we intend to protect the citizens of Israel,” Bennett said.

The prime minister urged Israelis to abide by regulations in order to minimize the impact on daily life while offering “maximum protection” against the virus.

“Time is running out; anyone who has not yet been vaccinated is asked to make an appointment today. The vaccines are working [against the Delta strain and] the second vaccine is crucial. There are five days left for people to get the first shot so we can utilize  the doses that expire at the end of the month,” Bennett said.

Bennett urged people to wear masks in enclosed areas, a regulation reinstated two weeks after it was lifted as infection rates rose once again.

“The best vaccine against coronavirus is the masks,” Bennett said, urging people to avoid crowded places.

“If we do not have the cooperation of the citizens and the scope of the disease continues to grow, we will consider reinstating some of the restrictions of the ‘Green Passport,'” the prime minister said, referring to the limitations on people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from COVID-19.

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