In its latest measure to try to contain the Omicron variant, the Cabinet voted on Tuesday to reduce the in-office presence of public sector workers to 50%.
The ministers voted by telephone to approve the proposal by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which will take effect from Sunday, 26 December until Wednesday, 26 January 2022, for government ministries and independent subsidiary units, according to a statement from the Government Press Office.
Ministry director generals and independent subsidiary unit managers will be authorized to maintain a higher rate of presence “provided there is justification and they have informed the Civil Service Commission.”
Apparently responding to complaints that the government regulations have been issued in a chaotic and unpredictable manner, Bennett said that such is not the case:
“The Omicron in Israel is advancing exactly according to our expectations and assessments…The plan that we are submitting this evening has been worked on intensively in the past 24 hours by the relevant ministries. It is not falling on the ministries out of the blue; as I understand it, it is by agreement. I ask that we all communicate seriousness and determination to the public so that the public will show responsibility and join in.”
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman registered a dissenting opinion:
“I don’t think this is the time to take steps like limiting gatherings. It puts us into a world of giving compensation” to owners of event halls, concert venues and other businesses that would be harmed by such measures.
“Just like we live with the flu, we have to live with the Omicron,” he was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.
Also on Tuesday, Bennett said that he hopes health officials will soon approve a fourth dose of the vaccine for relevant populations.
Health Ministry official Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis confirmed that the matter is under consideration.