Netanyahu: ‘We have finished opening up the economy’

“There is no doubt that we need to stop the disease. The disease is coming back and we have, at least for now, finished opening up the economy.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony marking the retirement of Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov on June 18, 2020 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the ceremony marking the retirement of Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov on June 18, 2020
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel has finished opening up more of the economy – at least for the time being – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared.
Speaking Thursday at a ceremony celebrating the retirement of outgoing-Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov, Netanyahu said that, “There is no doubt that we need to stop the disease. The disease is coming back and we have, at least for now, finished opening up the economy.”
His statements came on the backdrop of another spike in coronavirus cases – 215 in one day, bringing the total number of active patients to 4,177. Some 303 people have died from coronavirus in Israel. The number of serious cases stands at 38, including 28 who are intubated.
In total, more than 20,000 Israelis have contracted coronavirus since February.
Based on the number of tests conducted Wednesday – 14,690 – the infection rate is holding at around 1.5%.
Netanyahu warned that the public must follow the Health Ministry’s guidelines or “we will be forced to take more aggressive measures.” He said these could include lockdowns or “general actions for the populace,” upon which he did not elaborate. He said Israel needs to flatten the curve again and “we will do what is necessary, as we did at the beginning of the pandemic in the country.”
The prime minister has made similar threats since Shavuot, which ended May 30, a holiday that took place about two weeks after the full reopening of schools, marking the start of the current rise in cases.
On Wednesday night, the coronavirus cabinet voted in favor of resuming intercity train service and allowing cultural activities of up to 250 people, despite the spike in diagnoses. It also recommended designating several new cities and neighborhoods as red zones. The Ministerial Committee on Designating Red Zones approved the decision to put closures on two of them, Arara and Rahat, on Thursday night. The committee decided against labeling the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa a red zone, however.
Netanyahu said the cabinet will meet again on Sunday to continue evaluating the situation.
During the ceremony, Bar Siman Tov said the Health Ministry “made mistakes, we could have included more entities in our decision-making,” but added that the ministry’s actions saved lives.
Of the people diagnosed on Thursday are at least six residents of a senior living center in Katamon, a Jerusalem neighborhood with a high percentage of English speakers.
Moreover, IDF C4I Directorate Commander Maj.-Gen. Lior Carmeli entered quarantine after he was exposed to a soldier diagnosed with coronavirus, the IDF reported Thursday.
Carmeli is reportedly the third general to be quarantined during the previous day, as OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Tamil Yidai are also in quarantine after coming into contact with people infected with coronavirus.
Also, a cadet in the Navy’s special operations training was diagnosed with the virus, Army Radio reported, forcing 40 cadets into isolation and causing the group’s graduation ceremony, which was meant to be held next week, to be postponed.
In addition, 10 employees of Soroka-University Medical Center were quarantined after a doctor from the hospital’s surgical department tested positive for coronavirus. Also, a Knesset employee tested positive for coronavirus, the Knesset spokesperson said.


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