Netanyahu: No More Easing Coronavirus Restrictions Until New Curve Flattened

A bottle of sanitising gel stands at the entrance of restaurant in Jerusalem on May 27, 2020 as restaurants were allowed to open for the first time in months after the Israeli government approved the easing of measures put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19. (Photo …
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he will stop further easing of the coronavirus restrictions — and may even revert to lockdowns – until the upward trend in cases reverses itself.

“There is no doubt that we have to stop the disease – it has come back,” the prime minister said at a ceremony for outgoing Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov.

“We are done for the time being with the opening the economy  – there is another question of opening the airport – but we are not going to open anymore at the moment.”
The number of active cases in Israel rose to 4,092 as of Thursday, more than doubling what it was at the beginning of the month.
“We are seeing an increase in morbidity that we must curb, and we will do what is necessary, as we did at the beginning of the epidemic in our country,” he said.
“There is no alternative for changing the public’s habits,” he added. “If that doesn’t happen, we will be forced to take more aggressive measures, including lockdowns,” he said.

The lockdown measures imposed in mid-March, while successful in flattening the curve, almost entirely shut down the country’s economy.

Netanyahu praised Bar Siman Tov’s handling of the crisis and thanked the outgoing director-general for “standing up in the face of waves of criticism, which was sometimes very cruel – even vicious criticism that had no basis.”

He added that had the government not taken harsh measures, “we could be in a situation like other countries that lost thousands of people as a result of their failure to act.”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein also thanked Bar Siman Tov for staying his ground despite the criticism he faced in predicting mass fatalities if lockdown measures weren’t imposed.

“I won’t exaggerate if I say that the people of Israel certainly owe you thanks and, in many cases, an apology,” Edelstein said.

Bar Siman Tov said while he felt “mistakes were made” and more people could have been included in the decision-making process,

“There were times when I felt that we were being sucked into a time tunnel, but with great faith that we can affect our fate,” Bar Siman-Tov said. “The health system showed its full power and reached the peak of its ability.”

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