Netanyahu Admits Reopening Economy Too Fast amid Coronavirus Surge

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wears a protective mask as he opens the weekly cabinet meeting at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem on July 5, 2020. (Photo by GALI TIBBON / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GALI TIBBON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday admitted his government was too hasty in reopening the economy and as a result, Israel is now facing a “second wave of corona.”

“Looking back, as part of trial and error, we can say that the last step was too early,” he said.

“We are in the midst of a second wave of the coronavirus. It has come to us and it has reached other countries as well. In my estimation, it will not skip over almost any country,” he said.

The prime minister also noted that Israel handled the first wave well and the death toll was and is “very low” but admitted that the lockdown caused a “heavy toll on the economy.”

“It requires fateful decisions every day, balancing between trial and error. You attempt, err and fix. That’s how all leaders are operating,” he said.

The prime minister’s remarks were made during a press briefing in which he introduced the government’s new economic bailout plan for failing businesses.

He said he was working with the Finance Ministry “around the clock to procure the money as quickly as possible.”

The premier pledged by next week, 400,000 independent business owners who lost earnings as a result of the pandemic would receive a grant of 7,500 NIS ($2,200).

He said the decision to reopen quickly was the result of public pressure.

“We did it because we heard your struggles. I take responsibility for this step, and I will take responsibility for fixing it,” he said.

Israel’s coronavirus infections are at an all-time high with well over 1,000 new cases confirmed on a daily basis.

On Thursday, the country’s top military brass including IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi entered quarantine after coming into contact with a coronavirus carrier.


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