Cabinet Further Limits Crowds at Restaurants

Health Ministry calls to avoid northern hot spot■ Passengers returning from 'green' countries no longer have to self-isolate ■ Israel confirms more than 90,000 cases ■ More than 100 dead in the West Bank

Haaretz
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Israeli medical personnel take samples at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Ramat Hasharon, July 6, 2020.
Israeli medical personnel take samples at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Ramat Hasharon, July 6, 2020.Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP
Haaretz

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Israel and the West Bank are dealing with a renewed coronavirus outbreak, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

LISTEN: Trump's tragedy, Netanyahu's debt and Jewish unityCredit: Haaretz

92,198 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 674 people have died. 

In the West Bank, there are 7874 active cases; 115 people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 81 people were diagnosed and one person has died. 

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live stats of cases and deaths

LIVE UPDATES

8:50 P.M. Over 1000 more virus cases diagnosed, 19 more deaths

1,118 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 92,198 Israelis have been diagnosed in total. 387 of those are in serious condition, with 116 of those on ventilators. 674 people have died of the virus. (Haaretz)

6:57 P.M. 608 more Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus

608 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since the last update this morning, and 91,080 Israelis have been diagnosed with the virus in total, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 375 of these are in serious condition, with 108 of these on ventilators. Meanwhile, 665 people have died of the virus (Haaretz).

1:07 P.M. Palestinians report 531 new cases

The Palestinian Health Ministry registered 530 new coronavirus cases in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and one new case in Gaza. In addition, one elderly woman died in the West Bank.

Health Minister Mai Alkaila said 40 percent of diagnosed cases are still active and the death rate stands at 0.6 percent. 

12:18 P.M. Israel further limits crowds at restaurants

The ministerial committee for the coronavirus crisis approved new restrictions, allowing up to 30 people to gather in an open space, up from the current 20, as of Sunday at 2 P.M., but limiting the number of people allowed in an indoor space, specifically affecting restaurants.

The new regulations state that up to 10 people can stay together in an indoor space of up to 80 square meters, and up to 20 people in a space that is bigger than that, down from the current 20 in any indoor space.

A group of restaurant owners criticized the new measures approved by the ministers, saying they disproportionately harm their business activity. (Noa Landau and Bar Peleg)

11:40 A.M. Confirmed cases in Israel top 90,000

Israel has so far confirmed 90,472 coronavirus cases, with 23,665 of them considered active. According to the Health Ministry, 377 patients are in serious condition and 110 of them on life support.

657 COVID-19 patients died so far and 66,151 have recovered. (Haaretz)

9:31 A.M. Health Ministry calls to avoid northern town over spike in cases

The Health Ministry called on Israelis to avoid the northern town of Yarka due to a spike in infection rate there. However, no official lockdown was imposed on the town.

According to the ministry’s data, cases in Yarka almost quadrupled over the past week and now has one of the highest rates of infection in the country. (Haaretz)

THURSDAY

8:01 P.M. Israeli cases near 90,000

There have been 89,555 coronavirus cases diagnosed in Israel since the outbreak began, Health Ministry data shows. 

There are currently 24,183 active cases, with 1,401 diagnosed since yesterday. There are 371 patients are in serious condition, of which 110 are on ventilators. The death toll has risen by eight since the previous update, to 651.

5:00 P.M. Israelis returning from certain countries no longer have to self-isolate

Israel will no longer require travelers flying from countries marked as “green," or acknowledged by the European Union to have low incidence of the coronavirus, to self-isolate upon their return to Israel or be tested for the coronavirus before their return. The list of green countries includes Japan, Georgia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea, among others, and the EU has said that the list will be reviewed and updated every two weeks.

A joint statement from Israel’s transportation, health, foreign and tourism ministers announced the new measure, and said that starting Sunday, Israelis will be able to visit Bulgaria, Croatia and Greece.

Israelis traveling to those countries will be subject to a number of restrictions. Greece will allow in 600 Israelis at a time to its tourist destinations in Thessaloniki, Athens, Corfu and Crete, as long as passengers undergo a coronavirus test ahead of departure. In Greece, they will be tested again and quarantine at their hotels for 48 hours until they receive the results. Israelis travelling to Bulgaria and Croatia are required to take a coronavirus test ahead of departure but will not be subject to any further restrictions. All travelers must bring proof of a negative coronavirus test result to the airport.

The ministers decided that teams will continue to work on plans that would allow businesspeople to enter or exit Israel for economically necessary trips, as well as plans for incoming tourism from green countries.

At the end of the first week of this arrangement, the statement said, the Health Ministry will present data in order to ensure the plan's safety.

In addition to those countries, a number of others also allow Israelis to enter: The United States, Serbia and Turkey, considered "red" countries with a high incidence of the coronavirus, place no limitations on Israeli visitors. The United Kingdom, Slovenia, Romania and New York State require a two-week quarantine. (Noa Landau)

5:00 P.M. Netanyahu temporarily leaves coronavirus meeting for ‘national reason’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly left during a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet, returning after a few minutes. Some ministers present in the meeting said Netanyahu had told those present he had to leave because of “a national reason.” (Noa Landau)

12:30 P.M. Greece will allow entry to 600 Israelis per week, restricted to four locations

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Delias announced during a visit to Israel that his country would reopen its borders to Israeli citizens - under strict regulations. 

Only 600 Israelis would be let in per week, and they will be restricted to Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete and Corfu. (Noa Landau)

11:10 A.M. Four more deaths recorded overnight

The number of total cases has climbed to 88,733, with 386 currently in serious condition. 

Four people died since the last update, and 11 in the last 24 hours, as the death toll climbs. (Haaretz)

WEDNESDAY

11:03 P.M. 273 new virus cases diagnosed

273 more Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, with the total number of cases rising to 88,151, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 25,403 people currently have the virus. 369 of those with the virus are in serious condition, with 110 of those on ventilators. The number of those who have died remains at 639. (Haaretz)

7:44 P.M. 17 die of COVID-19 since yesterday 

Seventeen Israelis have died of the coronavirus since yesterday, bringing the death toll to 639, Health Ministry figures show. As of this evening, 87,878 cases have been diagnosed in Israel, of those 25,614 are active cases. This represents a rise of 1,285 since yesterday.

There are 369 patients in serious condition, and 110 are on respirators. 

Yesterday, Israel carried out 27,555 coronavirus tests. 

6:43 P.M. Ministers to announce travel policy allowing Israelis to forego quarantine

The health, transportation, foreign and tourism ministers have agreed that they will announce on Thursday at 4 P.M. which countries Israelis may return from without needing a 14-day quarantine.

However, the announcement is unilateral, as most countries do not accept travelers from Israel, due to its "red" coronavirus status. (Noa Landau)

12:51 P.M. More cases diagnosed as death toll rises

According to Health Ministry figures, Israel currently has 87,173 confirmed cases, out of which 24,963 are active.

Currently, 109 patients are on ventilators, and 633 have died. So far, 61,577 people have recovered. (Haaretz)

12:10 P.M. Pandemic czar criticizes Jerusalem's COVID-19 response

Israel's coronavirus czar, Ronni Gamzu, said Wednesday that Jerusalem's high infection rate and relaxed regulations are unprecedented: "Any other city in the world with such an infection rate would be locked down. People don't leave the house, don't leave the city. This would be the only option anywhere in the world. What you are doing here is without precedent globally."

11:11 A.M. Israel registers over 1,600 new cases confirmed since Tuesday

The Health Ministry said that 1,605 more people have tested positive for the virus since Tuesday afternoon, raising the toll of confirmed cases to 86,959. Three more people have died, bringing the number of fatalities to 622.

Currently, 793 people are hospitalized, with 377 in serious condition, out of which 110 are on ventilators.

The ministry added that 6,585 coronavirus tests have been conducted since Tuesday at midnight. (Haaretz)

TUESDAY

5:30 P.M. Minister says recovered from coronavirus

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz announced that he has recovered from the coronavirus in a tweet. (Jonathan Lis)

3:45 P.M. Coronavirus czar says second lockdown means another 500,000 unemployed

Coronavirus Czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu said on Tuesday that he wants to avoid a second lockdown. "It is not a simple burden and responsibility that I take on and try to give confidence to ministers and the government that it is still possible to go this way (without a lockdown) and still give hope to 800,000 unemployed people  to return to work, because a lockdown [will mean] another half a million unemployed," he said.

He also warned that there is a phenomenon of people not going to get tested because they're afraid of getting a positive result."Whoever acts this way infects friends wherever he goes. Maybe he is avoiding isolation but it doesn’t make sense." 

When it comes to testing, Gamzu said that a target of 36 hours has been set from the moment of referral to get a coronavirus test until results come in.

In regard to  the situation in the hospitals, Gamzo said: "Who is in intensive care today? 50, 60 year-olds in very bad situations. I need the hospital system strong for a few more weeks because all I described is not a whirlwind and we are done, and we will not eliminate the corona in two days. There is only magic in a lockdown. My only magic is perhaps to avoid a lockdown because of the socio-economic crisis." (Ronny Linder)

2:00 P.M. Police urge public not to attend funeral of Rabbi 

Police are urging the Israeli public to refrain from attending the funeral procession of the Rebbe of Sadigura, which will begin Tuesday at 4 P.M. in Bnei Brak, for fear that the large gathering will further the spread of the coronavirus. 

According to police, there is a "real danger to the health of the participants" in the event. The organisation called on the participants at the funeral to be careful about wearing a mask, to maintain a distance of two meters between people and to avoid gathering. Due to the funeral procession - which will begin in Bnei Brak and end at the Givatayim cemetery - streets in both cities will be closed to traffic from 3 P.M. to 6 P.M. (Bar Peleg)

11:15 A.M. Confirmed cases pass 85,000, death toll rises by 6

The Health Ministry said that 632 more Israelis have tested positive for the virus, bringing the nationwide tally of confirmed cases to 85,354, out of which 24,714 cases are still active.

So far, 60,019 people have recovered and 110 are on ventilators. Six more people have died, raising the death toll to 619.

The ministry added that 22,833 coronavirus tests were conducted on Monday. (Haaretz)

MONDAY

11:30 P.M Active cases pass 25,000 again

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 84,722, with the death toll rising to 613. The number of active cases now stands at 25,108, with 388 people in serious condition. There are 112 people on ventilators. (Haaretz)

10:11 P.M. Knesset approves extending emergency regulations

The Knesset approved a law to extend the coronavirus emergency regulations for another 21 days, until the end of August. The regulations include a 5,000 shekel minimum fine for violating quarantine; a 3,000 minimum shekel fine for failing to report the need to quarantine to the Health Ministry and a 500 shekel minimum fine for failing to wear a mask. 

Some regulations were extended only for the remainder of the week, and lapse on the 17th, including the 5,000 shekel minimum fine on quarantine violations in hotels designated for isolation. 
Twelve lawmakers voted in favor, and three opposed. (Jonathan Lis)   
8:00 P.M. Death toll rises by six

Israel registered six additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 612, new Health Ministry data shows. 

There are currently 84,381 coronavirus cases in Israel, of which 24,780 are active. There are 288 patients in serious condition, of whom 112 are on ventilators. 

4:40 P.M. Netanyahu says school year will begin September 1

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a closed Likud party meeting Monday that the new public school year would begin as usual on September 1, in accordance with the outline laid out earlier by Education Minister Yoav Gallant. (Noa Landau)

>> Click here to read the full report

3:35 P.M. Only four 'green' countries allow Israeli citizens in, Foreign Ministry official says

A Foreign Ministry representative told the Knesset's coronavirus committee Monday that only four countries that have a low incidence of COVID-19 – Croatia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Rwanda – are prepared to permit Israeli passport holders to enter their countries. In order to enter those countries, Israelis must certify that they have tested negative for the virus.

These regulations only apply to those traveling with an Israeli passport. Dual citizens traveling with a foreign passport may be subjected to other restrictions according to their nationality.

Ilan Fluss, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s economic division, told the committee that Italy also permits Israelis to enter the country for business, education and exceptional cases for limited periods.

In addition to those countries, a number of others also allow Israelis to enter: The United States, Serbia and Turkey, considered "red" countries with a high incidence of the coronavirus, place no limitations on Israeli visitors. The United Kingdom, Slovenia, Romania and New York State require a two-week quarantine.

Last Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement regarding a plan to significantly expand air travel for Israeli passport holders by August 16, but with only days to go before that date, the number of countries to which Israelis can fly at the moment is still limited. (Noa Landau)

1:10 P.M. Finance Ministry inks agreement giving doctors in quarantine full pay

The Israel Medical Association signed an agreement with the Finance Ministry on Monday ensuring that doctors who are required to go into quarantine due to contact on the job with a coronavirus carrier will continue to receive their full pay. The agreement also states that the doctors will not be docked sick days for the quarantine period. (Haaretz)

11:41 A.M. Under pressure, Israeli cabinet adds woman to cabinet subcommittee

The cabinet announced that it will be enlarging the so-called coronavirus cabinet, a subcommittee of ministers that deals with coronavirus policy, by two members. The government came under fire late last month after announcing a slimmed down version of the COVID-19 cabinet that did not include any women.

Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen of Kahol Lavan is being added to the coronavirus cabinet and will now be the only woman on the panel. The other appointment is Yaakov Litzman, the housing and construction minister, who is the leader of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party. Litzman came under fire for his perceived poor handling of the first wave of the coronavirus in his previous post as health minister. (Noa Landau)

11:20 A.M. Total death toll goes to 606

Another six people have died of the coronavirus in Israel, according to a Monday morning update from the Health Ministry. 

The overall number of cases has gone up to 83,540.

10:56 A.M. Israeli education minister says next school year will start on time

Education Minister Yoav Gallant vowed on Monday that the new public school year would definitely begin on schedule on September 1, despite the spike in recent weeks in coronavirus cases.

Speaking to the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee, Gallant said emphatically, "The school year will open on September 1, period. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to attract media attention and sow panic among the public."

The education minister was reacting to comments that Health Ministry Director General Chezi Levy made to the Ynet news website on Monday in which he said that it was possible that students from 4th grade and up would not start school on September 1. Gallant also insisted that special education classes at all grade levels would begin on time. 

According to the Education Ministry's plans, children from kindergarten through second grade are due to be placed in regular classes while students in grades 3 through 4 are scheduled to spend almost all of their time in pods consisting of half the usual class, to minimize their contacts. That, however, will require use of more classroom space, meaning that it is not clear where students in the higher grades would be placed. (Shira Kadari-Ovadia)

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