Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, today (Wednesday, 23 June 2021), held a discussion on the spread of the coronavirus, with emphasis on the Delta variant.
Participating in the discussion were the Health Minister, the head of the National Security Council, the Attorney General, the national coronavirus project director, the Health Ministry Director General, the Tourism Ministry Director General, the Airports Authority Director General, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Finance Ministry Budget Director and senior officials from – inter alia – the Health Ministry, the Population Authority and the Israel Police. Also participating were various experts including Prof. Ran Balicer, Prof. Eli Wachsman and Prof. Eran Segal.
Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Bennett's remarks:
"Our goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to safeguard the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant that is running amok in the world. Alongside this, we want to minimize harm to routine life in the country. Therefore, we have decided to take action as soon as possible, even now, in order not to pay a heavier price later, by taking quick and responsible actions. This depends on us. If we strictly adhere to the rules and act responsibly, we will succeed in this together."
Prime Minister Bennett directed the professional officials to make the decisions with maximum transparency while basing themselves on the data. Following are their main points:
1. A national operation to vaccinate people age 12 and up, with emphasis on information efforts.
2. Resuming operations of the network to cut off the chain of infection in cooperation with local authorities, which will be reinforced with the appropriate resources, in order to stop the centers of infection at an early stage.
3. Should the 100-new-cases-a-day threshold be crossed every day for a week, it will be obligatory to wear masks in closed spaces. At this stage, the professional officials are recommending that the citizens of Israel return to wearing masks.
4. The bodies involved in managing the fight against the coronavirus (such as the Health Ministry control center) will continue operations, which will be boosted and strengthened as necessary.
5. An information campaign to increase the vaccination effort and strictly maintain the obligation to quarantine, which will begin tomorrow (Thursday).
6. A plan will be formulated to increase enforcement vis-à-vis verified cases that violate quarantine. They will be tried; punishments will be severe.
7. The "Magen Avot" plan will resume operations and the number of tests will be increased to 10,000 per day.
8. The number of tests will be increased. The Prime Minister has determined that budgetary considerations will not constitute a restriction in this regard.
9. Ben-Gurion International Airport and border crossings:
It was decided that that the decisions regarding Ben-Gurion International Airport will be applied at the other international border crossings.
All Israelis traveling abroad will sign a declaration before boarding their planes to the effect that they promise not to go to high-risk countries. This declaration will be checked at the boarding desk.
Permission for foreign nationals to enter Israel for tourism purposes will be postponed for one month (from 1 July to 1 August), except in the context of group tours.