Israel may need to impose a fourth lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus. That writes The Times of Israel.
No country that vaccinates as quickly as Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proudly claimed on Thursday that his country was nearly done with the coronavirus, thanks to that rapid vaccination campaign. And yet there seems to be noise on the corona line again.
Figures from the Israeli Ministry of Health showed that the virus reproduction number was 1.01 Friday morning. Which indicates that the virus is spreading again.
“We are concerned about the increase in infection rates,” said Israel Corona Commissioner Nachman Ash. “If we don’t act responsibly, there is the possibility of a fourth lockdown.”
Still, on Saturday night, the Israeli government decided to greenlight a series of easing, including the reopening of cafes and restaurants. They may open their doors again on Sunday, under certain conditions.
From Sunday, only customers with a so-called “green passport” – proof that they have been cured or vaccinated against Covid-19- are allowed inside the café or restaurant. People who have not yet received a vaccine will only be allowed to sit on the terrace.
Students who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 can also return to the university auditorium from Sunday. The rest can only follow online lessons for the time being.
According to local media, events will also be possible again, at half capacity, up to a maximum of 300 people. Up to 5 percent of visitors do not need a green passport, but must be able to present a negative corona test.
It will also once again be possible for Israelis abroad to gradually return to their home countries. Initially, it concerns about 1,000 people from New York, Paris, London or Frankfurt.
In Israel, it is not uncommon for people with a green passport to be given more freedoms than the rest of the population. The country has already advanced the most in its vaccination campaign worldwide: of its approximately 9 million inhabitants, more than 4.9 million have already received a first dose, while some 3.7 million Israelis have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
But globally, there are still rules about keeping a distance and hand hygiene for everyone. Relatively few people have been vaccinated, especially among the ultra-Orthodox and Arab population.