On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the nation on live television to issue a stern warning regarding the need to remain vigilant in light of the continuing coronavirus threat.
“Everyone needs to worry about not getting infected, and about not infecting others,” said Netanyahu, adding, “If we don’t keep the regulations, it will return.”
Netanyahu delivered the address in response to a spike this week in new virus cases, with 100 infections reported during a 24-hour period on Friday, the largest surge since the beginning of May. The general theme of the address was that corona victory celebrations are premature at this point, with Netanyahu identifying as red flags Israelis’ failure to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing.
The prime minister reminded the nation that the virus is still ravaging other parts of the world and “still exists here in Israel.”
“As long there is no vaccine, [COVID-19] will return. And it will spread, if we aren’t exacting [with] the rules,” Netanyahu said.
Among the hotbeds of new infections is a school in Jerusalem’s tony Rechavia neighborhood, which had over 100 cases, requiring testing for all students and staff.
Netanyahu referred to the upcoming week as a trial for the nation to see if eased restrictions keep the virus at bay, warning that if the uptick in cases appears to be a trend, restrictions on businesses and movement could be reintroduced.
While the school system is slated to remain open, Netanyahu said that authorities would step up enforcement of social distancing and face mask requirements.
As of Saturday evening, Israel had recorded 284 deaths from the coronavirus.