Covid-19: Israel to ease its second lockdown after a significant decline in cases
Israel’s government has agreed to ease a month-long second nationwide lockdown, after a significant decline in the number of new coronavirus cases.
Israelis who have been confined for weeks to their home or immediate neighborhoods will now be allowed to travel anywhere in the country – including to visit elderly relatives whom they have been avoiding as a precaution.
Beaches, nature reserves, malls, markets, and national parks will reopen later in the week for visitors.
Meanwhile, schools and nurseries which opened partially on Sunday will return to regular schedules by the end of the month, Netanyahu told reporters.
The prime minister declared the lockdown had been a “major success”.
“Israel’s achievements in the campaign against the coronavirus are serving as a model for many countries,” Netanyahu said while cautioning that curbs could be reimposed if the infection rate once again spikes.
Even though Israel was one of the first countries to close its borders and impose increasingly stringent restrictions on movement to hamper the domestic outbreak, it has reported 300,000 Covid-19 infections and 2,128 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But with the last lockdown, the daily number of new confirmed cases has gradually fallen from a high of almost 9,000 at the end of last month to 1,608 on Thursday – below the threshold of 2,000 set by the health ministry as a condition for the first stage of the lockdown exit plan.
The test positivity rate of 4.5% is also the lowest recorded since mid-July, while the reproduction number, or R-value, currently stands at 0.62 – below the threshold of 0.8.
However, the country’s borders are still effectively closed. Forced quarantine on incoming visitors has caused most airlines to cancel flights.
“Regarding civilian flights – we are deliberating on this with great judiciousness. … We want to do it in a manner that does not lead to people coming in from morbidity hot spots infecting people in Israel,” Netanyahu said.