Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that in hindsight, the government reopened some parts of Israel's economy too quickly, leading to a resurgence in coronavirus infections nationwide.
"Looking back, we can say that the last part of the opening of the economy was premature," Netanyahu told a press conference, referring to the reopening of bars, clubs, and event halls. "We are in the midst of the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. It arrived at our doorstep and that of other countries as well."
"Handling the coronavirus requires responsible decision-making, balancing between trial and error. We had great success in the first wave and as a result, we reduced the number of infections to just a few every day."
The premier, alongside Finance Minister Israel Katz, then presented the government's financial rescue plan.
The plan includes a social safety net for wage and self-employed workers and a financial safety net for businesses until June 2021 in order to guarantee economic certainty for the coming year. The government would also provide training for individuals making a career change to "coronavirus-era professions".
Netanyahu also promised that grants of up to NIS 7,500 ($2,250) will be transferred to self-employed workers and business owners as early as next week.
In an earlier meeting between Netanyahu and Finance Ministry officials, the sides promised to devise flash legislation of the plan, that will be brought before the government on Sunday and before Knesset on Monday.
This would allow transferring the funds to workers on a regular basis.
The veteran prime minister also said that he and his government will devise additional financial and health plans in the coming weeks and that Israel's powerful economy allowed the country to take loans with low-interest rates.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party soon after dismissed Netanyahu's statement as "hollow words."
"The person who set up an out-of-touch government of 36 ministers and busies himself with a tax rebate amidst the crisis should not come to us with tales of 'taking full responsibility'," Lapid said.
"Netanyahu's comments on the economy are hollow words and will not stand the test of time," Lapid said. "Most of the public is still waiting for their two previous payments. Let us hope that this time will be different."