With masks back on indoors and a full-on campaign by the government to get 12- to 15-year olds vaccinated against COVID, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a direct appeal to young people indicating that future lockdowns are contingent on them getting vaccinated.
“If you do not want to have limitations, go out today to get vaccinated,” he said. “Talk to your parents and get vaccinated.”
“I know how much you want to enjoy the summer, and you will be able to,” Bennett said. “We do not want to impose any limits – not on parties, or trips or on anything,” but he added that people who are not vaccinated “are simply putting themselves and those around them in danger.”
Sounding a lot like his predecessor, Bennett said he wants to triple the daily rate of 10,000 vaccinations to 30,000. Under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, more than 50% of the population was vaccinated in less than half a year.
“In order to defeat the coronavirus, the government must manage and the public must cooperate,” Bennett said. “If we will be disciplined now, on very small things – go and be vaccinated and wear a mask – we will prevent chaos later. The entire public must join this deal.”
Bennett also announced on Sunday the appointment of Roni Numa as a special coronavirus commissioner for Ben-Gurion International airport.
Bennett called the airport “a huge national weak point.”
“We decided to appoint a special director to handle transitions and prevent the entry of this virus and future variants and viruses from around the world into Israel,” Bennett said.
The move comes after the Israeli government recently decided to postpone the reopening of the country’s borders for vaccinated tourists until at least Aug. 1 in response to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant virus raging across the globe.
Bennett also stressed the need to focus on the future and remain vigilant regarding the spread of new and more contagious virus variants.
“The responsibility will be to deal with this now as well as look toward the future,” he said. “Vaccinations do not always work. There can be variants, next month, next year or in four years, for which there is no vaccine. There is no reason why we cannot protect ourselves even if there is no vaccine.”
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said testing at Ben-Gurion Airport needs to be dramatically boosted.
“Currently, there are no significant lines. In preparation for the number of flights expected in the summer months, we are establishing a permanent testing facility, in addition to the temporary facility that has been established in cooperation with the Defense Ministry.”
In recent days, the number of daily corona cases in Israel have been climbing, on average surpassing 100 per day. Consequently, there are currently 1,180 active cases in Israel. Out of these, 23 are individuals in serious or in critical condition. While the numbers are still comparatively low at this time, authorities worry that the situation could deteriorate quickly.
While Health Ministry officials were considering preemptive measures including potentially reintroducing mandatory mask wearing outdoors and putting a cap on the number of people who can attend gatherings, the recently reestablished Coronavirus Cabinet decided on Sunday not to impose new restrictions at the moment.
Bennett, who has been reluctant to reintroduce corona restrictions, urged Israelis to avoid nonessential travel abroad.
“There is an increase in the number of cases, but at the moment there is no increase in the number of people hospitalized. Our strategy is the maximum protection of Israeli citizens with the minimum violation of routine.”
“Masks instead of restrictions, vaccines instead of lockdowns,” Bennett said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.