The government will do what it can to ensure that Israel does not fall into an economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
He spoke at a meeting with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron and members of the private sector to discuss the growing financial challenges resulting from the fast-spreading coronavirus and the restrictions being put in place on travel.
The Finance Ministry is developing procedures to handle the potential crisis, which include a compensation protocol, Netanyahu said.
“I ask the citizens of Israel to obey the guidelines we give them,” he said. “We will work together, and we will get through this crisis.”
Meir Ben-Shabbat, the national security adviser and National Security Council director, who also attended the meeting, said: “We have established an orderly process between all government ministries to enable maximum synchronization between all parties. We are careful, but we are not hysterical. Everything is under control, and we are constantly assessing risk.”
Ron Tomer, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said Israel’s manufacturers stand with the government to ensure functionality yet safety.
“We are working with the Finance Ministry to secure an economic safety net for the private sector to ensure continued economic activity,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the association said a French ship, the Lausanne MSC, docked at Ashdod Port and was being denied entry. The apparent reason was that a person onboard had recently been in South Korea, it said. The ship is carrying pesticides, pharmaceuticals and food, it said.
“The decision was made without the seamen being examined by medical teams,” the association said in a press release. “The cargo ship was required to enter quarantine even though the crew was not expected to enter Israel and despite no other countries thus far implementing any restrictions on foreign trade.”
On Monday, when the Bank of Israel said it would keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.25%, it noted that the outbreak of the coronavirus is casting uncertainty over a range of areas, including future economic activity both in Israel and abroad, the impact on inflation and on financial markets.
The meeting Tuesday came after the Manufacturers Association of Israel and many in the private sector had appealed to the government for assistance, warning that the financial impact of the novel coronavirus threatens the survival of some businesses.
Eytan Halon contributed to this report.