Israel is set to reduce the mandatory coronavirus self-quarantine from 14 to 12 days in order to help the country's ailing economy, while keeping the contentious practice of tracking the phones of confirmed virus carriers.
The ministerial committee, which deals with overseeing the usefulness of Shin Bet's tracking of COVID-19 carriers as part of the fight against the outbreak, is expected to recommend the government shortens the isolation period for people who came in contact with patients, Ynet learned on Thursday.
The committee already recommended on Wednesday the government extends the utilization of Shin Bet's tracking technology by another three weeks.
According to the committee's chairman, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen (Likud), reducing the isolation period will greatly aid Israel's economy that has been heavily affected by the health crisis, by saving hundreds of thousands of working days a month.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn are also all part of the committee.
According to a report submitted to the committee by the Health Ministry, the Shin Bet processed the whereabouts of 40,241 confirmed coronavirus patients between July 1 and July 23.
In addition, the Shin Bet also tracked 67,504 people who were found to have been in close contact with a confirmed carrier during epidemiological investigations.
Thus far, the security service has helped the government track 246,650 confirmed and suspected virus carriers since the beginning of the outbreak in Israel.
"Tracking by the Shin Bet has been found to be an effective and quick tool for locating those who came into contact with patients, including thousands of cases that would not have been located at all, or in time, without their assistance," wrote the Health Ministry in its recommendation to the committee. "This tool greatly aids the national effort to cut the chain of infection as it still has no suitable alternative."
In the meantime, the government's "coronavirus cabinet" has decided to adopt the recommendations of the virus czar, Professor Ronni Gamzu, to abolish partial weekend lockdowns, which he said were ineffective in battling the spread.
In addition, the cabinet authorized Edelstein, Ashkenazi, Transport Minister Miri Regev and the National Security Council to come up with an outline to reopen Israel's air traffic by August 16.
As the first step, the skies will be opened exclusively to "green" countries, where the pandemic is considered to be under control.