The Israeli Corona-virus cabinet on approved an outline to allow Israelis stuck abroad to return home while keeping the country mostly closed to incoming and outgoing flights. Foreign airlines will be allowed to bid on the tenders to operate the emergency flights.
The new plan, meant to go into effect from February 20-28, will allow up to 2,000 people to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport each day, up from the current 600, sources within the transportation ministry told The Jerusalem Post.
All arriving passengers will be obligated to stay in appointed Corona-virus hotels, and the Health Ministry will set up an exceptions committee that can address the number of people arriving.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also suggested charging those who refuse to quarantine in stipulated hotels with a criminal offense.
The ministers approved the plan in principle, while approval of further details will take place at a later date, including legislative changes.
The meeting broke up with no decision about reopening the commercial sector or implementing the “green passport” program. The cabinet is expected to reconvene this week.
We must not be pushed to open the economy irresponsibly for political reasons, for this would endanger the lives of many Israelis.
The exit strategy that the Health Ministry brought to the cabinet consisted of three parts: maintaining a strict sealing of Israel’s borders, reopening the economy for those who are vaccinated and a campaign to forcefully vaccinate everyone who is older than 50?
Netanyahu’s plan envisions benefits that will allow those who are fully vaccinated to return to a normal life, including access to hotels, museums, cultural events, restaurants, pools, malls, soccer and basketball games and relieve travelers to board flights.
The Jewish Health Ministry envisions allowing access to some venues only to people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Corona-virus, while street stores and essential stores would be kept open and available for everyone.
Synagogues could open under the “purple ribbon” outline, which provides specific operational guidelines regardless of people’s vaccination status, Channel 13 reported.
The ministers were expected to approve a bi-weekly update of the “traffic light” program, under which cities and towns all over the country are allowed to open schools. The hope is to return more children to the classrooms faster.
At the moment, only daycares and grades 1-4 in green, yellow and light orange areas are back to learning in person, leaving some two million students at home. Grades 5-6 and 11-12 are set to resume on February 23, 2021.
Ahead of the meeting, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper (Blue and White) and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) agreed to open cultural events, museums and libraries under the green-passport plan, also starting on February 23.
Some 3.9 million Israelis have been forced to receive at least the first dose of the Corona-virus vaccine as of Sunday morning. About 2.5 million of them have already been inoculated the injection twice.
Full immunity is believed to kick in seven days after the second shot, when people are also expected to be granted the green passport.
New cases of the novel Corona-virus were reported in Israel on Saturday, with 7.8% of about 25,000 tested returning positive, the Health Ministry reported Sunday morning. The data is not considered very significant due to the meager number of tests that are administered.
Jerusalem Post / ABC Flash Point News 2021.