A meeting of Israel's coronavirus cabinet due to take place Wednesday looked to be delayed as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to hold a series of urgent consultations on the possible introduction of nighttime curfews.
The cabinet tasked with battling the pandemic was set to convene later in the day to vote on the third phase of the exit plan from the nationwide lockdown, which includes reopening of malls, open-air markets and gyms as well as bringing back to school children in fifth and sixth grade.
But, while the third phase of the exit plan was set to begin two weeks after the start of the second phase, the alarming increase in the infection coefficient looks as though it will cause an indefinite postponement and even prompt the government to implement additional measures.
Netanyahu is expected to hold at least two meetings with some of the government ministers, discussing with them the implementation of possible nightly curfews since health officials estimate the infection coefficient will continue to increase in the coming weeks.
Sources say the nighttime curfew in Israel will only be imposed if there is indication about the rise in contagion rate, which despite the increase in the infection coefficient, is still stable. The meeting will be attended by the head of the National Security Council, the health minister, the director general of the Ministry of Health, coronavirus czar, the head of public health services and the science and technology minister.
Finance Minister Israel Katz will also attend the meeting is expected to oppose any delay in further easing of lockdown restrictions, citing the immense damage the economy has sustained as a result of the prolonged nationwide closure. Other ministers, including Netanyahu himself, are expected to back the postponement of the third phase.
The prime minister will later hold a meeting discussing an outline presented by the Education Ministry, detailing the reopening of schools for children in grades five and six and students in grades eleven and twelve, who are studying for their matriculation exams.
According to the outline, which requires the approval of the cabinet, children in first through fourth grade will study at school five days a week, those in fifth and sixth grade will study at least three days a week, and eleventh and twelfth graders will attend in-class studies at least twice a week.