Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Shem Olam
Israeli visit a Tel Aviv cafe as the country further the eases coronavirus restrictions, March 7, 2021

Israel has a choice: vaccination or recession

Opinion: While Israel's vaccine drive has given us a safety net to reopen large swathes of the economy and education system, we must adhere to regulations lest we be overwhelmed by the pathogen and its myriad of variants

Sever Plocker |
Published: 03.07.21, 23:33
In an attempt to push Israel out of its third pandemic-induced nationwide closure and restore some semblance of normality, the government elected to reopen large swathes of the country's economy and education.
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  • But unlike the reopenings after the prior two nationwide closures, this time the decision was not driven by overt political considerations or the government's submission to any particular sector whose sole purpose is self-interest.
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    Guests sit and take away food and drinks from a Tel Aviv cafe as Israel further the eases coronavirus restrictions, March 7, 2021
    Guests sit and take away food and drinks from a Tel Aviv cafe as Israel further the eases coronavirus restrictions, March 7, 2021
    Israeli visit a Tel Aviv cafe as the country further the eases coronavirus restrictions, March 7, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    No, this time the reopening of Israel’s bruised and battered cultural life, economy and education system was done on the recommendation of the Health Ministry's professionals and several independent teams of experts.
    This reopening can of course also be attributed to Israel’s very successful vaccination drive, which has seen 90% of the country's over-50 population be fully inoculated.
    There is no doubt about it - reality in Israel has changed and lifting the restrictions is not as dangerous as it was in the past. To ignore this fact would undoubtedly be a mistake.
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    בריכת גורדון
    בריכת גורדון
    Gordon Pool on Tel Aviv beachfront reopens to people who have been vaccinated
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Few people believed that the vaccine would be so overwhelmingly effective so soon. Even so, a massive number of Israelis chose to trust the country’s health experts and get themselves inoculated while ignoring the fearmongering of those who chose to spread lies about the vaccine without a shred of scientific evidence.
    It is not for nothing that Israel’s enormously successful vaccination rollout - which helped prove that the vaccine has little-to-no serious side effects - has been lauded by both the international and scientific communities.
    And yet, we must remain vigilant. Even a successful vaccination campaign might not be enough to fully thwart the resurgence of the pathogen due to its seemingly ever-multiplying number of variants.
    Currently, Israel’s defenses against the coronavirus suffer from two potentially massive breaches that would help the virus resurge in full force.
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    תורי ענק בנתב"ג
    תורי ענק בנתב"ג
    Huge crowds at Ben-Gurion Airport during the pandemic
    The first is Ben-Gurion International Airport, where the handling of the virus during the entire pandemic has been lackluster at best.
    After trying a myriad of failed solutions ranging from shutting the airport completely (and stranding thousands of Israelis abroad) to allowing entry with minimal supervision, the government has finally decided to implement rapid testing for new arrivals and an electronic bracelet to track returnees from abroad who must now quarantine at home.
    Another potential problem is the education system, which now more than ever stands amid a surging number of infections among Israel's young people.
    The partial return of high schoolers highlighted the infuriating level of incompetence and lack of initiative shown by everyone in the education system.
    From the heads of the Education Ministry to the teachers' unions, no one properly prepared schools to open safely for returning students.
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    לומדים בבית הנשיא
    לומדים בבית הנשיא
    High schoolers returning to school in Jerusalem
    Now all we can do is wait for the approval of a rapid vaccination campaign for students and faculty, just as the country's top medical professionals suggested months ago.
    Stopping the coronavirus pandemic is also up to the business sector who must now fully adhere to restrictions, as stringent as they may be.
    For we have just one choice now: Vaccination and education or unending recession.
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