Israel is likely to reinstate the indoor mask mandate from Sunday due to resurgence of COVID-19 in the country, a senior health official said.
The Health Ministry said on Thursday the daily number of new coronavirus cases has surpassed 100 for the third day in a row following two, mass coronavirus outbreaks in schools in Binyamina and Modi'in last week.
Health Ministry's Public Health Director Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis told Ynet on Thursday morning the ministry will likely recommend reinstating the mandate next week but it will be up to the government to implement it.
"A decision has been made that once we have a daily average of 100 cases over one week, we will bring back masks in confined spaces," she said. "I assume this will happen as early as Sunday in light of the very fast spread we are seeing."
Her comments came less than 24 hours after she said during a press conference that if Israel would see over 100 new COVID patients for several days in a row, the mask mandate will return.
"We were always ready for it, we kept saying 'the pandemic is not behind us'. We keep monitoring, checking, closing borders and doing everything because this thing can come back."
Dr. Alroy-Preis added, however, the Health Ministry can only recommend which steps to take and the task of enforcement lies solely with the government.
"We must remember the Health Ministry is not the enforcement body in the State of Israel. The problem here is enforcement and not something else. We have a very clear policy on which places Israelis should not travel to, but it should be enforced. It's really our Achilles' heel."
She said the lack of adherence to mandatory quarantine rules for travelers from high risk countries is one of the main causes behind the latest outbreak.
“We know that responsiveness to maintaining self-isolation is about 30%. People returning from abroad do not stay in self-isolation and can spread the disease. This is how the Delta variant made its way to us," she said.
"Therefore, the issue of quarantine enforcement should be a priority for law enforcement agencies in the State of Israel."