Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz, and Minister of Transport Merav Michaeli made an inspection visit to Ben Gurion Airport yesterday, prompted by the worsening of Israel's Covid-19 morbidity statistics in the past few days. The Ministry of Health announced that there were 125 verified new cases of the disease on Monday, which compares with 48 on Sunday,
After the tour of the airport, Bennett said, "The Indian variant is spreading rapidly in many countries, with an infection rate higher than we have seen before. Unfortunately, we are seeing the start of an outbreak in Israel as well. This variant has an infection rate far higher than that of the original coronavirus. It also infects people who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccination has a significant effect, but it is still possible to become infected. We have seen children being hospitalized in the UK as well, because of which they are treating this as a new outbreak.
"The aim is to break the chain of infection early and strongly. To be transparent with the public, which deserves to know everything. We are a government just starting out, and we have issued several immediate orders. We are forming a coronavirus cabinet straightaway to construct an action plan together with Nachman Ash and Sharon Alroy, who have already been there.
"The decisions so far are: a coronavirus cabinet is being reformed; from now on, anyone entering Ben Gurion Airport, without exception, must wear a mask until they leave; all travelers entering Israel will undergo a PCR test, and we have already expanded the number of testing stations from 30 to 70, and we will add more if necessary.
"I ask anyone who does not need to travel abroad not to do so. This is not an order but a request. We are aware of the desire to fly abroad in summer. The infection in Binyamina originated in a trip to Cyprus, which is not a red country. There may be substantial changes in policy on entering and leaving Israel. My recommendation: don’t book overseas vacations."
The prime minister called for all children from age 12 to be vaccinated as soon as possible. "All the indications from Israel and around the world are that the danger of contracting Covid-19 is incomparably worse than the risk from the vaccine. There's a huge amount of fake news. We are acting on the basis of science and facts. I am going to vaccinate my children, the minister of the interior has already vaccinated her children," he said.
"Most of the vaccines we hold will expire by the end of July, and so it is necessary to receive the first dose by July 9. For anyone who is not vaccinated by then, we don't have vaccines for later. At the moment we have stocks. The rate of vaccination is not good, just 2,000 daily. I call on parents: Go out immediately and have your children vaccinated. I'm vaccinating my children tomorrow. A recommendation, not an instruction: Let's go back to wearing masks in closed spaces.
"I am instructing ministers and public leaders from now on to wear masks. This is not mandatory, because we want to see whether we are above 100 verified cases daily, but if that is the situation and if that is what happens, in my view the instruction will become mandatory.
"There are widespread violations of isolation procedures. I ask everyone, especially those returning from overseas, to be strict about self-isolating. We are recruiting 270 inspectors for this purpose. Parents whose children violate isolation will bear full responsibility. We are one country and it's extremely important not to fall into a panic. At the moment we are in a good position, but we will tighten Israel's borders.
"Within the country we must extinguish this thing so that we can continue with the routine of our lives. Because children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and the rate of vaccination of older children is not high, the focus is on children. Let's avoid mass events; we don’t want to go back to lockdowns. If we act sensibly and out of consideration for one another, we can beat the coronavirus," Bennett concluded.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 23, 2021
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