Bennett Warns of Lockdown If Steps Not Taken to Curb Omicron ‘Immediately’

YERUSHALAYIM -
(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

In a return to the warnings that became a staple of previous waves of the pandemic, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday that “if we do not take immediate and difficult steps now, we will reach a lockdown.”

“Right now our immunization rate is horrible,” Bennett added as the government pushes to up vaccine numbers, particularly the booster shot, to curb the spread of the Omicron COVID variant.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that he, too, is “very troubled by Omicron.

“There are all sorts of indications that it could cause serious illness. We have decided on a series of measures and an extension of existing regulations. The more enforcement there is, the faster we can get past this.”

Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev suggested that “if the [Omicron] variant goes wild, a Green Pass should be considered for anyone leaving their home.”

“The tourism industry is suffering greatly and we must find a way for compensation but if we have to impose a lockdown we will suffer a massive blow to the economy,” Bennett said. “We must take decisive action now – with a limited economic impact or have 100 times more of a blow later,” he said.

Bennett also called on Israelis to rush to receive coronavirus vaccines before the more infectious Omicron variant spreads in the country.

“Don’t wait for the variant to spread everywhere,” he said as he warned that immunity is only reached after the passage of a period of time.