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Borders are shut to foreigners but Bennett announces new restrictions headed for Israelis too

Vaccinations at schools, gathering limitations, possible fourth vaccine dose all on the cards as Omicron fears ramp up

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on December 19, 2021. (Photo: Emil Salman/POOL)

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced a new series of recommendations that would further limit Israelis – and this with the border already shut to incoming tourists and closed for outbound Israelis wanting to travel to more than 60 countries around the world including the United States.

"Our goal is to enable the State of Israel to get through the Omicron wave while maintaining the functioning of the economy as much as possible," Bennett said.

"The Omicron in Israel is advancing exactly according to our expectations and assessments," he said, adding that the virus is doubling on a daily basis.

Israel has a relatively high vaccination rate although now that the injection is available for children, along with the requirement for a third shot to be considered fully protected, the percentage of the vaccinated has gone down.

"The public needs to be aware that a dramatic increase in morbidity is expected. This is not an exaggeration. It is expected and I estimate that it will arrive very quickly," Bennett predicted.

He said that people who are vaccinated are "incomparably protected against severe morbidity as opposed to those who are not vaccinated or who are not vaccinated fully," which is actually contradicted by numbers from Denmark and other countries.

"As of now, there is a large number of Israelis who have received two inoculations but not the third dose. There are also 1 million children who have not even received the first inoculation. They are currently exposed and our goal is to motivate them on a large scale in the coming days to get vaccinated," he said.

Israel to give the fourth vaccine dose to adults over 60, immunocompromised individuals, and health workers, according to the Prime Minister’s office, beginning "as soon as possible."

"The alternative is between restrictions and preventive measures now, and much harsher measures later. One need not be a prophet here. Our core strategy is to delay by as much as possible, by another day and another day, to vaccinate and to prepare as much as possible, and to lower the pace of infection a bit," Bennett continued.

"The plan that we are submitting this evening has been worked on intensively in the past 24 hours by the relevant ministries. It is not falling on the ministries out of the blue; as I understand it, it is by agreement. I ask that we all communicate seriousness and determination to the public so that the public will show responsibility and join in."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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