Health official says data, not dates, drives easing of virus restrictions

"From the beginning, we never gave a date when stage three would take place,” Alroy-Preis said.

Israelis stand in line to enter clothing stores as shops officially opened after almost a 2-month long lockdown, November 08, 2020. (photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Israelis stand in line to enter clothing stores as shops officially opened after almost a 2-month long lockdown, November 08, 2020.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, Head of Public Health Services, warned during a public address on Sunday against lifting restrictions too quickly that were imposed during the second lockdown.
“We need to get to a daily infection rate of less than 500 before we ease restrictions more,” she said, noting that the effect of opening schools to grades one-four and allowing one-on-one treatments from hairdressers and other professions last has not yet been seen but will show up in a week. She said she did not know when fifth and sixth grades would be allowed to go back to school.
Replying to a question from The Jerusalem Post about when stage three of the exit plan from the lockdown, which has been frozen, would continue, she said, “It isn’t frozen. That would mean we planned it and stopped.”
Alroy-Preis said that only once the morbidity goes down, further restrictions would be lifted. “It’s according to data on morbidity, not on dates... From the beginning, we never gave a date when stage three would take place.”
Speaking about the onset of flu season, she said that so far the flu had not broken out and that this was the ideal time for people to be vaccinated. In response to a question about rates of infection in the ultra-Orthodox community, she said she was concerned about surveys that said that 50% of the ultra-Orthodox said that even if they felt ill they would not get tested.
“It’s not about mistakes, it’s about attitude,” she said when speaking about what she feels the Health Ministry should have done differently. “Everything has a price... Lifting the lockdown with 2,000 cases per day has a price but being in a lockdown for more than five weeks also has a price.”
The Tourism Ministry published a directive for how hotels that have been hurt economically by the pandemic can apply for NIS 300 million in grants in three installments. The outline also includes small hotels with 11 rooms or more.
Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, said, “the tourism industry, which has suffered a severe blow, is in need of a grant for the losses suffered due to the closure of tourism. When I took office, I initiated an amendment to the regulations related to the NIS 300 million hotel assistance already approved in the first wave, so that small hotels, even if they had received property tax rebates, would still be able to benefit from the grant money. Now we are publishing the outline regarding distribution. I invite hoteliers, from large and small hotels, to submit their application and get the support they need.”
On Sunday evening, the IDF said saying that 108 soldiers and IDF employees have been diagnosed with the virus and have mild symptoms, while one is moderately ill. As of Sunday, 1,464 soldiers were in quarantine at home.
The Health Ministry released statistics on Sunday showing that 449 people were diagnosed with the virus on Saturday and Sunday morning. Three hundred and thirty people were in serious condition and 143 were intubated. Four people died of the virus on Sunday and 2,674 have died in Israel from the virus since the pandemic started.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.