The deputy health minister said the next stage of Israel's lockdown exit plan, which includes the reopening of restaurants, is not certain despite being approved for upcoming Sunday.
Israel last month began gradually lifting its two-month long coronavirus lockdown, including reopening of malls and gyms. On March 7 the country is set to enter its third exit plan stage, with reopening of restaurants, cafes and live shows for those who had been vaccinated with two shots, as well as schools for grades 7-11.
In an interview with Ynet TV on Wednesday, Yoav Kisch said that if Israel's coronavirus basic reproduction number (R) exceeds 1, the next stage of the exit plan would be halted.
"Nothing is a done deal. On Thursday, a decision will be made based on the [latest] coronavirus data," he said.
"There is a huge difference between a basic reproduction number that is below 1, which means a declining epidemic, and higher than 1, which means an expanding epidemic. If the R number rises significantly, we will not approve another reopening, we will recommend halting it."
Earlier, health officials said although the country's coronavirus contagion rate is the lowest it has been in two months, the basic reproduction number has once again climbed to worrying 1.
"We are managing [the exit plan] with the professional echelon of the Health Ministry. There is a plan, first in the world, which is not just about reopening but having restrictions with the Green Pass," he said, referring to passes issued to those who'd been fully vaccinated.
"This is the ability the State of Israel has thanks to the vaccines. They changed the game here. We are doing this carefully, we see that the coefficient of infection has not yet exceeded 1."
The deputy health minister added that regardless of whether the reopening of eateries and entertainment venues goes ahead, the school grades 7-11 will return to class as planned since it is the government's top priority at the moment.