Netanyahu Eases Virus Restrictions: ‘We Have Greatly Succeeded’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech to the foreign media during the annual GPO (government press office) New Year's toast in Jerusalem on January 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV – Israel is joining a newly formed alliance between immunized countries that have succeeded in containing the coronavirus pandemic with the aim of resuscitating the tourism industry.

The so-called Alliance of Immunized Countries, comprised of Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic, New Zealand and Israel, held its first meeting over the internet last week and discussed ways to rehabilitate tourism trade, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz was behind the idea to open the borders between the countries, which all have small or mid-sized populations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Kurtz met with several world leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and all agreed to take preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks and undergoing tests.

On Monday, Netanyahu announced the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Malls and markets are set to open on Thursday and the ban on movement further than 100 meters has been lifted.

First-degree relatives are allowed to meet, including the elderly. Gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted.

Kindergartens will begin operating in full on Sunday.

“We are gradually bringing back sports and leisure, and we will be publishing precise guidelines on opening parks. The same is true for bed-and-breakfast inns,” Netanyahu said.

“We have greatly succeeded,” Netanyahu said, but added that every COVID-19 victim “is a big sacrifice. It breaks all of our hearts. Our goal was to save lives… Each victim is a world.”

Netanyahu noted that while 235 people died in Israel, 7,924 died in Belgium (population 11.5 million), 18,000 in New York (8.4 million) and Sweden 2,769 (10.23 million).

Netanyahu further warned that the exit strategy would be suspended if 100 or more people were confirmed to be carriers of the coronavirus in one day, or if the number of cases doubles in a period of 10 days. He said lockdown would also be considered if 250 or more people diagnosed with the virus were to devolve into serious cases.

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