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Coronavirus Cabinet approves Health Ministry recommendation to cut quarantine in half

No decision made on the controversial green passport system which the Health Ministry wants to reintroduce

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz visit at a tent for COVID-19 testing for incoming passengers at the Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on July 12, 2021. (Photo: Flash90)

With a recent increase in COVID cases, Israel's Coronavirus Cabinet decided on Tuesday to slice quarantine time in half from 14 days to 7, but at the same time says there will be a dramatic increase of enforcement for mask and quarantine violators.

The shortened quarantine will be conditioned on receiving a negative result from a COVID test.

Authority was transferred to the Public Security Ministry to deal with violations.

“In order to boost the cooperation with the public, as well as the confidence of the public, the Cabinet has decided to enable persons in quarantine to be tested on the seventh day of their quarantine, wait for a negative result to be released,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said. “However, we will also increase enforcement for violations. People who leave quarantine without being tested will be fined 5,000 shekels. The goal of this move is to increase the number of people who accede to quarantine.”

In the meantime, no decision was made on the controversial green passport system which divided Israeli citizens, giving the vaccinated and recovered access to certain venues while excluding unvaccinated, including children.

The Health Ministry is proposing a "green passport light" version of its predecessor which was cancelled on June 1. Senior Health Ministry officials want to include rapid corona tests for non-green passport holders before entering indoor facilities with more than 100 people, including houses of worship, weddings, theaters, conferences, gyms, restaurants and hotels – and charging those over 16 for the test.

So far, the Coronavirus Cabinet has not accepted the plan and some members argued the far-reaching measures are disproportionate to the low number of serious COVID cases in the country.

The following are the Cabinet's decisions from Tuesday night:

  • Shortening the duration of the quarantine: Release from quarantine after being tested on the seventh day and receiving a negative result. At the same time, enforcement against people who violate quarantine will be increased.

  • Expanded information efforts with emphasis on wearing masks, getting vaccinated and being careful at large-scale events

  • The Health Ministry will prepare for the establishment of a rapid testing network that will be available to the public at large.

  • A dramatic increase of enforcement for not wearing masks

  • The Public Security Ministry will have overall responsibility for enforcement. It will be assisted by local authority inspectors regarding enforcement in the public sphere.

  • Preparatory work will be done on future organization for large-scale events (over 100 people) in closed spaces.

“We expect the public to accede fully, to quarantine, to the tests at the end of the period, to vaccinations and to wearing masks,” Bennett said. “Together, we will defeat this pandemic.”

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

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