Netanyahu Approves Preliminary Plan to Lift COVID-19 Restrictions
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has approved a preliminary plan to slowly ease Israel out of its weeks-long coronavirus lockdown.
A statement from the prime minister’s office on Thursday said the plan is “responsible, cautious and gradual.” The proposal must first be greenlit by the Cabinet and will be submitted for approval on Saturday night.
The plan includes “a limited opening of businesses in a measured and controlled manner,” the statement said.
It will also allow Israelis to move farther away from their homes.
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According to the plan, no more than two people from the same household will be permitted to regularly venture about a third of a mile away from their home for exercise. Currently, Israelis are ordered to stay inside and are only allowed to walk 328 feet away from their homes for essential needs like grocery shopping and doctor appointments.
The plan also called for special education to reopen on an individual basis.
The Finance Ministry, which is pushing for the country to reopen to save the economy, will create a pilot plan with more details to slowly bring the nation back to life.
“It is possible that changes will be made pursuant to the discussions that will be held over the next two days,” the prime minister’s office said
Earlier on Thursday, the government approved a decision to lift lockdown restrictions in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, where infection rates were high. Meanwhile, they extended the restrictions in Jerusalem neighborhoods until April 19.
While the Finance Ministry is eager to reopen Israel’s economy, the Health Ministry fears a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases if the restrictions are lifted too soon.
“We don’t like the term ‘exit strategy’ but rather ‘routine under coronavirus,'” Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov told Israel’s Channel 13. “Because coronavirus is here. It’s not leaving us… We’ll have to take measured steps, see that things are under control and if they stay that way, go a little bit further every time.”
The Health Ministry does not want Israelis to return to work until the country only sees 30 to 50 new patients per day. There are currently at least 100 new coronavirus cases in Israel per day.
More than 12,700 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Israel with 143 deaths. More than 2,800 people have recovered.
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