Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday hailed his decision to impose a month-long nationwide lockdown in response to spiraling coronavirus infections, calling it a success that European countries want to learn from.
Speaking to ministers at the start of a coronavirus cabinet meeting to discuss an exit strategy from the closure, Netanyahu cautioned that a third lockdown was possible should Israel not lift restrictions in a measured and gradual manner.
Some ministers expressed concern that Netanyahu intended to extend the lockdown further and not lift restrictions that would allow young children back to kindergartens and schools as well as delay the reopening of some small businesses that do not involve public interaction.
While daily cases have declined, coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said Thursday that while he was optimistic, Israel must see a steady reduction of both new cases and the rate of contagion for a period of one week before restrictions can be lifted.
"We appear to be reaching our goals and would be able to begin lifting some restrictions next week," he told Army Radio.
Primarily ultra-Orthodox areas are still suffering from high rates of contagion would be required to remain under lockdown even while areas with low morbidity could see restrictions end, as part of the gradual reopening of the economy that is expected to be adopted by ministers.
Last month, as COVID-19 cases increased rapidly, ministers refused to impose localized mitigation restrictions on ultra-Orthodox communities and opted to impose a lockdown on the entire country after political pressure from the Haredi coalition members and local authorities.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Thursday that he was optimistic that some restrictions would be lifted early next week.
"We will move ahead in periods of two weeks at time until we have completely opened businesses and the education system," he told Ynet.
First published: 14:00, 10.15.20