By: Aryeh Savir
Israel on Sunday commenced in the first stage of emerging from its second countrywide Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown after four weeks.
Small businesses that do not receive customers and kindergartens opened, and take-out from restaurants is now allowed.
The countrywide travel restrictions were removed, and the nature parks and beaches were opened.
Red Cities with a high infection rate remained under full lockdown, and entry to and exit from these restricted zones is permitted on in special cases.
The majority of the Red Cities and neighborhoods are populated by the Ultra-Orthodox, whose leadership has instructed them to disregard the Corona guidelines, especially when pertaining to synagogues and worship.
In a special statement on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision to impose a lockdown as “correct.”
Israel is now “moving cautiously. We are exiting according to an outline that has been determined by health experts and the Health Ministry. There is an outline and we have gone according to it on every point.”
“If it appears that it is not working, if it appears that we are going backwards, then we will have no choice but to retighten the restrictions,” he warned.
Addressing the Ultra-Orthodox public, he noted that “our Torah sanctifies life. We have a Torah of life and we need to safeguard life and health.”
“We will maintain the cordon around the red cities. I want to see the red cities become green cities. I do not want to see the morbidity in the red cities trickling into the rest of the population,” he stated.
In conclusion, he emphasized that “there is a reason for optimism” in regard to a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have told you that I already see the leading companies advancing toward a vaccine. There is now a reason for optimism, even optimism that is slightly less cautious. We are working to obtain these vaccines for the State of Israel. We see the end but we need to reach it and do so united. So I ask you to follow the rules, wear masks and maintain distance. We will proceed together and we will overcome the coronavirus,” he said.
The Ministry of Health updated Sunday that it recorded 395 new cases in the past 24 hours.
14,908 corona tests have been performed on the last day, with a low 2.6% positive rate.
According to the data, 673 corona patients are hospitalized in serious, of which 237 are on life support.
Of the 302,770 Israelis who have contracted the virus since the outbreak in February, 2,190 patients have died.