After hours of deliberation on Sunday, on the proposed lockdown to be imposed in order to reduce the growing contagion of coronavirus, ministers were able so far to agree only on keeping schools open for ages kindergarten to fourth grade until the end of the week.
The Israeli government has been discussing the proposals set forth by the Ministerial Committee on the coronavirus pandemic, with ministers split on the extent of the lockdown.
Israel has recorded over 4,000 new cases daily since last week with over 500 people in serious condition of which 139 are on ventilators. The death toll from coronavirus has reached 1,108 since the start of the pandemic.
The ministers heard health experts warn about a dangerous increase of seriously ill patients in need of ICU care that could impact the level of medicine provided to COVID and non COVID patients.
Finance Minister Israel Katz insisted more places of business be allowed to operate warning a lockdown would cost the economy approximately 20 billion shekels while Health Minister Yuli Edelstein insisted only a lockdown would yield the necessary reduction in newly confirmed cases. The ministers will likely agree to work places allowed to have 30% if their work force to continue operating.
One point of contention remained the question of synagogues and how they would be allowed to operate during the High Holidays with health officials warning that congregations inside would only increase the number of infections insisting all crowded events held indoors must be banned.
Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism leader Yaakov Litzman announced his resignation from the cabinet on Sunday, over the government's intention to limit prayers to small groups outdoors.
Ministers reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was inclined towards a less stringent lockdown than the proposal brought to the cabinet. Netanyahu is set to make a public statement later in the evening before his departure to the U.S. where is will attend a ceremony marking the normalization of relations with the UAE.
He has been widely criticized by some in the Israeli public for leaving while the country is facing a health crisis.
Protesters planned to block his entrance to the Ben Gurion International airport in efforts to delay his departure planned for 11 pm.
First published: 19:21 , 09.13.20