Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday warned that reopening the economy following the coronavirus outbreak would be a series of rises and falls, comparing it to an accordion that expands and contracts.
Speaking at a press conference following the government's decision not to shutter the education system, Netanyahu warned of “a steep increase” in new coronavirus cases in recent days, but conceded it’s too early to say whether this is a trend.
He complained, however, of a “loosening” of Israelis’ adherence to social-distance rules meant to prevent the virus from spreading.
“As long as no vaccine is found for the virus it will return and spread if we aren’t meticulous about the rules,” Netanyahu said.
He continued, “If we don’t do this, there will be no choice but to return to limitations on the economy and public sphere.”
Amid the surge in new coronavirus cases, the Cabinet on Saturday announced that schools that show an increased rate of infection among faculty and students are expected to close once again, while the rest of the education system will remain operational.
Ministers and officials met Saturday to discuss the possible closures in the education system amid the spike in new infections in recent days.
The surge was largely centered on Jerusalem's Gymnasia Rehavia High School, where a student was said to have infected over 100 people.
The ministers also decided that enforcement of the directives should be stepped up, with businesses and individuals facing fines for violating social distancing and other rules.
Event halls for weddings and other mass gatherings are set to reopen on June 14, under strict monitoring and regulations.
On Friday, 101 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, the highest number since the beginning of May. Most new patients were from the Jerusalem area, with the majority of those being from the Gymnasia Rehavia High School, where according to the Health Ministry 103 faculty and students were infected with the virus.
Health Ministry statistics on Saturday showed only 14 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours.
It is unclear if the drop in new cases is linked to a fall-off in testing, with the ministry saying only 671 were performed Saturday and 1,825 on Friday.
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov said during a press conference on Friday that a "warning light" has gone on.
"We have seen a significant increase in cases in recent days. It is clear and significant and has spread in different parts of the country," said Bar-Siman-Tov.