The number of Israelis infected with the novel coronavirus grew by 714 on Tuesday morning, according to the Health Ministry. The increase came after the government approved late Monday a list of new restrictions that the coronavirus cabinet had voted on earlier in the day.Effective immediately, weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs (or similar religious events) will be limited to 250 people. All other events, including circumcision ceremonies and communal prayer will be capped at 50 people. After July 10 and until at least July 31, weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs that take place indoors shall be limited to no more than 50% of the capacity of the venue, with no more than 100 people in attendance. Events in open spaces can continue to have 250 guests.
The coronavirus cabinet also recommended the following regulations: university final exams will be taken online except in extreme circumstances, 30% of public-sector workers will work from home and only 28 children can be included in a group at summer camps, the cabinet decided.A message from the Prime Minister's Office explained that, "Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy will presently sign an order on an outline for summer camps and the remote holding of higher education exams."The restrictions that were approved by the cabinet will be reviewed and approved by the Knesset House Committee on Tuesday.The measures are being rolled out on the backdrop of an increased number of patients in serious condition. As of Tuesday morning, there were 46 people with severe symptoms. In addition, the number of active patients was 7,096. Since the start of the crisis, there have been 24,688 people infected. So far, 320 people have died.The number of sick people is rising, and the number of older people infected with the virus is also going up, according to Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy.“An increase in patients will bring an increase in serious patients and an increase in intubated patients,” he said in an interview with N12. “We see the behavior, and we want to look to the future.”If the percentage of positive results continues to rise, from 0.5% in May to the current 3%, “this will bring us a high number of sick people, Levy said.The Health Ministry recommended limiting social gatherings to 20 people, events to 50 people and cultural events to 250 people, running summer camps in capsules, allowing prayer only in open spaces and with up to 19 people and canceling any conferences or exhibitions.Ministers at the cabinet meeting did not agree to such severe regulations out of concern for the economy, Israeli media reported. On Sunday, Levy described his ministry’s proposal as being met with fury.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to take new initiatives to help the Israeli economy heal from the impact of the pandemic at a meeting of his Likud faction, which took place shortly after the regulations were announced.“We are always in tension between maintaining our health and economy,” he said. “I will get involved with full force in economic issues. I will make sure that the money that has been promised will get to people and will propose innovative new programs to get the economy moving.” Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz announced a NIS 2 billion plan to support businesses in crisis, expanding the criteria to receive government grants and the resources devoted to them. Companies with a turnover up to NIS 100 million will now be able to apply, as well as self-employed professionals with a turnover up to NIS 300,000. A grant of NIS 7,500 for each worker brought back from unemployment was also confirmed.According to the National Insurance Institute, the number of people who have applied for unemployment benefits who have not returned to work was 673,567. Since the beginning of the crisis, 1,074,905 Israelis have requested unemployment benefits, and more than 92% were accepted, the NII said.Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz emphasized the need to prioritize the fight against COVID-19 and its financial implications.“Together we will defeat the coronavirus and deal with its economic and medical impact,” he said at a meeting of his Blue and White faction in the Knesset. “What is not connected to coronavirus will wait.”Gantz said he asked that the Defense Ministry be in charge of executing the measures against the virus because it is best equipped to deal with emergency situations.“We are in the middle of a continuing phenomenon, and the only body that can deal with it alongside the security cabinet and Health Ministry is the Defense Ministry,” Gantz said. The Defense Ministry was preparing to double the amount of coronavirus hotels, he said.Netanyahu and Gantz were criticized by opposition leader Yair Lapid, who addressed the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and its economic ramifications in a meeting of his Yesh Atid-Telem faction.“There isn’t a compensation framework for small businesses, there isn’t a plan to get people back to work, and unemployment rates in Israel are among the highest in the world,” he said. “A few weeks ago, the prime minister said, ‘The whole world is learning from us how to manage the corona crisis.’ Everyone was very impressed, except the world. Because the rest of the world understands that there is a difference between talking and managing a crisis. They’re not impressed by speeches; they’re working with facts.”Lapid said a poll on Sunday showed that 85% of the public are worried about their economic future, and “the rest are all members of the government.”The European Union is opening its borders, but Israel is marked as a red country, he said.“A red country is one that isn’t effectively managing the corona crisis,” Lapid said. “Instead of managing the crisis, they created the largest, most-bloated government in the history of Israel.”