Netanyahu discusses lifting COVID-19 restrictions with world leaders

The leaders expressed concern regarding the expected second wave of the pandemic outbreak and the fact that the virus is likely to stay with us for a long time

Netanyahu discusses lifting COVID-19 restrictions with world leaders (photo credit: PMO)
Netanyahu discusses lifting COVID-19 restrictions with world leaders
(photo credit: PMO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a video conference on Friday with the leaders of six different countries to discuss their strategies for lifting restrictions that were put in place during the coronavirus crisis.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz initiated the video conference for leaders of countries that he considered to be leaders and models for the world in fighting the pandemic, so they could discuss best practices.
Attending the video conference were Kurz, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The leaders also discussed ways to prevent a second wave of infections.
Kurz thanked Netanyahu at the start of the meeting, saying "I want to thank Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fact that at the beginning of the the virus' outbreak, we spoke on the phone he and told me, 'You need to do more.'  It was a wake-up call for me to make tougher decisions on total closures."
"Thanks to this decision, we have dropped to fewer than 100 new infections a day.” The Chancellor then invited Netanyahu to be the first speaker in the conversation.
Netanyahu shared with the leaders decisions and steps taken in Israel to prevent the epidemic from spreading. The prime minister said that cooperation between the countries must continue to be strong and that knowledge and ideas must be shared and exchanged to combat the spread of the virus.
“I’m delighted to have this opportunity to try to learn from each other, because there are so many uncertainties and unknowns in this pandemic,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister addressed the matter of loosening lockdown rules: “The question is how to support our health system and prevent it from collapsing while opening up our economy. This is the dilemma we’re all familiar with. Specifically on this, there is no real answer that prevents the reinfection of populations, unless you get to herd immunity. Herd immunity, at the moment, appears to be very expensive in lives.”
The leaders discussed further promoting international collaborations in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, exchanging ideas and courses of action which the countries have used to deal with the spread of the virus, raising common dilemmas regarding the reopening of the economy, policies regarding the reopening of educational institutions and ways of working to protect at-risk populations from the virus.
The leaders expressed concern regarding the expected second wave of the pandemic outbreak and the fact that the virus is likely to remain for a long time. The leaders also noted that springtime weather in Europe could bring the population to complacency in adhering to health guidelines.
The leaders sought to learn from Israel on the topic of the digital tools being used by Israel Police and security services for contact tracing, mainly in the context of dealing with a second wave of outbreaks.

Kurz later tweeted, "I want to thank the prime ministers of #Australia, #Czech Republic, #Denmark, #Greece, #Israel & #New Zealand for taking time today to exchange best practices on #COVID-19," along with a photograph of the video call showing Netanyahu.
"We look forward to enhancing our scientific & economic cooperation to increase our resilience,” Kurz added.
Babis tweeted after the video conferences that the countries will be "working together on vaccine development and self-sufficiency in the provision of medicines, protective equipment and everything we need to protect the health of our citizens. That is the most important thing now."
Similarly, Morrison tweeted that the "valuable exchange...emphasizes the need for continued strong cooperation and collaboration on research for a vaccine, supply chains and combatting the virus, as well as strengthening our economies again."