Coronavirus in Israel: Only Four 'Green' Countries Let Israelis Enter, Foreign Ministry Official Says

Education minister vows school year will start on time ■ Cabinet issues new restrictions further limiting crowds ■ Medical staff announce labor dispute

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Passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport, July 29, 2020.
Passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport, July 29, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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

85,354 people in Israel have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 619 people have died. 

In the West Bank, there are 7,824 active cases; 80 people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 72 people were diagnosed and one person has died. 

■ Coronavirus tracker: Live stats of cases and deaths

LIVE UPDATES

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 wants to avoid another lockdown

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.

Regarding the new school year, Gamzo said: "We want to open the school year because it has social implications. The line guessed by the education minister is largely correct. The decision is the government's, but we have to give the data.”

Gamzu added that older students are as likely to be infected with the virus as adults, whereas young children are less likely to be infected. “The decision will be made in the next two days after my recommendation and the team of experts.” he said. “We should be responsible because the parents are going crazy about this.”

He warned that "there is a phenomenon of people not going to be tested - whoever does it infects friends, and 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 somebody finds out if they are infected.

It is critical to work to lower the infection rate in cities where it remains high, Gamzu said, but added that this will not happen “in two days. Will there be a lockdown? Maybe yes, but only according to the method I described. The third way - it does not make sense for the restrictions of one city to be the same as another. We will agree on everything - also on the index of what makes a city red, orange, yellow and green [according to the severity of the infection rate] and what the restrictions are. All this is meant so that a city can run by itself.”

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)

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)

>> Click here to read the full report

SUNDAY

11:00 P.M. Israel registers total of 763 new cases on Sunday

763 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Sunday, according to Health Ministry data. Israel’s national tally of active cases now stands at 24,867. Out of these cases, 393 are in serious condition, and 117 are on ventilators. 

A total of 600 have died from the virus.  The ministry added that 8,596 tests for the virus were conducted on Sunday. (Haaretz)

9:00 P.M. Israel Medical Association announces labor dispute 

The Israel Medical Association announced a labor dispute, demanding to increase funding and hire more employees in hospitals and medical centers across Israel. The union’s representatives claim that the Finance Ministry is hurting Israel’s public health system, particularly during the coronavirus crisis.

If no agreement is reached with 14 days, the labor union could launch measures that would lead to a general strike. The union called on Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz to intervene in the crisis. (Ido Efrati)

8:00 P.M. Government allows outdoor concerts, cultural events to resume

Concerts and other cultural events are allowed to resume in open spaces, with crowds in separated groups of 20 people each, Israel’s finance, health and culture ministers, together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a joint statement. Each venue will have to be individually approved by Health Ministry inspectors.

According to the ministers’ statement, a decision on indoor concerts will be made “within the coming weeks.” (Noa Landau)

7:30 P.M. Israel registers 346 new cases, seven deaths on Sunday

According to Health Ministry data, 346 more people have tested positive for the virus on Sunday so far, raising the nationwide tally to 82,670. Out of these cases, 393 are in serious condition, and 118 are on ventilators.

Seven more Israelis have died, bringing the Israel’s death toll to 600.

The ministry added that 8,596 tests for the virus were conducted on Saturday overall. (Haaretz)

6:00 P.M. Israel issues new restrictions further limiting crowds 

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet issued new restrictions Sunday, further limiting crowds at workplaces and the number of passengers allowed in a private car.

According to the new directives, which go into effect Tuesday, up to 10 people are allowed in an indoor workplace, business or private home and up to 20 in an outdoor space.

In addition, the number of people riding in a vehicle is reduced to three people, including the driver. This will not apply to nuclear families or people living in the same household.

The cabinet also approved a directive allowing Health Ministry district physicians to order the closure of workplaces and businesses for up to three months if a coronavirus carrier is traced back to it. 

Bars, pubs, clubs, events halls and water and amusement parks remain shut. (Noa Landau)

3:30 P.M. Israel to double its daily number of coronavirus tests

Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a contract between his ministry and My Heritage, an Israeli online genealogy platform, to double the number of coronavirus tests from 10,000 to 20,000 a day. (Yaniv Kubovich)

1:58 P.M. Joint List lawmaker quarantined after contact with confirmed patient

Lawmaker Ahmed Tibi of the Joint List said he had entered quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed coronavirus patients. Tibi will remain in isolation until August 15. (Jonathan Lis) 

1:33 P.M. Cabinet expected to approve new workplace, transportation restrictions

The coronavirus cabinet will convene on Sunday to approve new virus restrictions, including curtailing the number of employees at workplaces and the number of passengers riding in a private vehicle.

In addition, the cabinet is also expected to extend current emergency regulations, which expire on Monday.

According to Health Ministry officials, the cabinet will issue new directives, permitting up to 10 people in an indoor workplace and up to 20 in an outdoor workplace.

In addition, the number of people riding in a vehicle will probably be reduced to three people, including the driver. This will not apply to nuclear families.    

The cabinet is also expected to approve a directive allowing Health Ministry district physicians to order the closure of workplaces and businesses for up to three months if a coronavirus carrier is traced back to it.

These restrictions have been coordinated with coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu, who will not attend the cabinet meeting. (Ido Efrati)

10:38 A.M. Israel registers new cases, five deaths since Saturday night

According to Health Ministry data, 191 more people have tested positive for the virus overnight Saturday, raising the nationwide tally to 82,515. Out of these cases, 394 are in serious condition, and 118 are on ventilators.

Five more Israelis have died, bringing the Israel’s death toll to 597.

The ministry added that 8,587 tests for the virus were conducted on Saturday. (Haaretz)

SATURDAY

8:12 P.M. Israel's death toll nears 600

Israel's Health Ministry confirmed almost 1,300 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 82,279. Of those, 24,617 are considered active cases.

With 11 new deaths, Israel's COVID-19 death toll is at 592. There are currently 389 patients in serious condition, 106 of them on life support. (Haaretz)

FRIDAY

7:30 P.M. Israel diagnoses 1,432 new cases

Israel's Health Ministry recorded 1,432 more cases so far on Friday. To date, 80,991 people have been diagnosed in Israel, of which 55,313 patients have recovered so far.

Currently, 369 patients are in serious condition and 109 are on ventilators. So far, 581 people died from the coronavirus in Israel so far. (Haaretz)

11:30 A.M. Israel reports 377 more cases

Israel's Health Ministry recorded 377 more cases, bringing the total of new cases on Friday morning to 872. To date, 80,431 people have been diagnosed in Israel. The number of active cases is 24,577. Two more people died on Friday, bringing the death toll to 578. 

8:30 A.M. Israel reports 495 new coronavirus cases

Israel's Health Ministry recorded 495 new cases on Friday morning, bringing the total to 80,054 cases, of which more than 24,000 are active.

On Thursday, more than 27,000 cases were conducted.

THURSDAY

10:51 P.M. Confirmed cases pass 79,500

Israel now has 79,559 confirmed coronavirus cases, new Health Ministry data shows. Of those, 25,554 are active cases. The number of serious cases remains at 358, and 100 patients are currently on ventilators. 

The death toll remains at 576. (Haaretz)

10:40 P.M. Government cancels weekend restrictions

The government approved, via telephone vote, canceling the prohibition on keeping non-essential businesses and public playgrounds open during the weekend. (Noa Landau)

7:42 P.M. Seven more die of COVID-19 since morning

According to data released by the Health Ministry, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel has risen to 79,275, an increase of 1,356 since yesterday. Of those, 25,285 are active cases. There are 358 Israelis in serious condition, of whom 100 are on ventilators. 

Since this morning, seven more Israelis have died of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 576.  

1:40 P.M. Gantz announces vaccine clinical trials to begin after Jewish high holidays

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the Israel Institute for Biological Research Thursday and was presented with advances in the development of the coronavirus vaccine and antibody.

Gantz said that clinical trials on humans should begin after the Jewish high holidays, which begin in september "in coordination with the Health Ministry."

The director of the institute, Prof. Shmuel Shapira said "there is an excellent vaccine, there are regulatory processes that the vaccine has to go through according to the schedule, we start after the holidays with safety and efficacy experiments but we have the product in hand."

The Biological institute does not specialize in research and development of pharmaceuticals, antibiotics or vaccines for the Israeli population, let alone the rest of the world. Its official objective is development of protective measures against biological and chemical weapons.

There are more than 130 different projects currently underway around the world in the search for a coronavirus vaccine. Only a handful of companies are close to reaching or have already reached the clinical trial stage. These include AstraZeneca, which is developing a vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University and Johnson and Johnson; the French drug company Sanofi, which is working with the British company GSK; the Chinese company CanSino is expected to begin the third stage of a clinical trial with the drug it has developed. (Yaniv Kubovich) 

1:00 P.M. Coronavirus czar announces no lockdown in Israel  

Prof. Ronni Gamzu, Israel's coronavirus response coordinator, announced Thursday that the government decided not to impose a lockdown as it has done in the past, at his recommendation.

Gamzu said that he is aiming for a reduction in the infection rate by September 1.

"The public is on the edge, their trust has been damaged by previous closures ... We are taking on a complex task here, I do not know if we will succeed in it, I can guarantee 100 percent effort and professionalism," said the newly appointed coronavirus czar.

Regarding cities with high infection rates designated as "red zones" and "orange zones" he said that "the authorities will determine their fate. I want more discipline in investigations, many more inspections. A red or orange city that ignores inspections creates a further increase in the infection rate." (Haaretz)

>> Click here to read the full report

11:15 A.M. Israel diagnoses 569 more cases

Israel's Health Ministry figures showed 595 new coronavirus cases on Thursday morning, raising the overall number of cases in the country to 78,514, of which 24,576 are active. 

The number of patients in serious condition is 345, of which 100 are on ventilators. The death toll stands at 569. (Haaretz)

WEDNESDAY 

10:50 P.M. 329 more Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus

1,721 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since Tuesday night, according to data released by the Health Ministry, an increase of 329 from statistics published earlier Wednesday. The total number of cases stands at 77,919. (Haaretz)

10:38 P.M. Coronavirus czar: Last chance at moderate measures

Prof. Ronni Gamzu, Israel's coordinator of the response against the coronavirus, said that the so-called coronavirus cabinet's decision to avoid a full lockdown was "a last chance at moderation."

"No country in the world with the current level of morbidity that Israel is experiencing deals with it without some kind of a lockdown," Gamzu said. "The government is sensitive to the delicate socio-economic situation and the situation of the public, so it supported me in avoiding a full lockdown. But if morbidity does not fall within the next two weeks, we will have to consider further restrictions, including local or even national closures."

Prior to coming into the job, Gamzu repeatedly made the case against imposing another lockdown to deal with a second wave of the coronavirus. (Noa Landau)

10:15 P.M. Coronavirus cabinet to impose restrictions on hotspots

The coronavirus cabinet decided to impose restrictions on 22 towns with particularly high rates of infections, in order to employ "stricter oversight on patients and their families." The list of towns included has yet to be published.

According to a statement from the prime minister's office, the plan will focus on interrupting the chain of infections, ensuring family isolation, isolating patients outside of the hot spot and keep a close eye on gatherings. (Noa Landau)

10:00 P.M. Israel's coronavirus cabinet cancels weekend restrictions 

The coronavirus cabinet has decided to cancel weekend restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions, which went into effect three weeks ago, required non-essential businesses to remain closed from 5 P.M. on Friday evenings until 5 A.M. on Sunday mornings. The cabinet also cancelled the restrictions on the use of playgrounds.

On the ground, businesses and shopping centers throughout Israel refused to close and police did not enforce the restrictions.  (Noa Landau)

9:10 P.M. Israel confirms 1,397 new cases, four more deaths

Israel's Health Ministry announced that 1,397 new cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed since Tuesday night. Four people have died since Tuesday night, placing the death toll at 565. Three hundred forty five people are hospitalized in serious condition, an increase of four from the previous evening. One hundred and six people are on ventilators, an increase of seven in twenty four hours.

8:40 P.M. Israeli delegation to India collects more than 20,000 patient samples to test  rapid COVID-19 diagnosis technology

An Israeli delegation to India is due back in Israel after collecting more than 20,000 samples from coronavirus patients in nine days, to be used in the final phase of an Israeli effort to develop new rapid coronavirus diagnosis technology.  

In a videoconference call with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashekanzi, members of the 20-member Israeli delegation from a number of government ministries and the army said they had set up 6 coronavirus stations in Delhi where patient samples were taken. The samples will be used to test four different technologies – soundwave analysis, the use of  breathalyzers, isothermic technology (relating to changes at a constant temperature) and using polyaminoacids, which mimic human proteins. (Yaniv Kubovich)

8:00 P.M. Association of Public Health Physicians comes out against total lockdown

The Israel Association of Public Health Physicians issued a statement Wednesday opposing a second general lockdown to address the coronavirus pandemic. The association said such a step would cause "disproportionate" damage to the health of the population in addition to damage of an economic and social nature.

"The argument that an extreme step is necessary in the run-up to the opening of the school year is not accepted by most public health experts in Israel and lacks epidemiological logic," the statement said. "There is no proof that a complete lockdown is feasible from the standpoint of public trust, and there is no proof that it would reduce mortality over the long term. Without proper preparation for the opening of schools even after a general lockdown, infection rates would quickly return to what they were."

Preparations should be made for distance learning for all of the coming school year and plans should also be undertaken to hold junior high and high school classes outside, the association stated. When it comes to the public at large, the organization also recommended that activities in closed spaces be curbed and that activity in the open air be encouraged. (Ido Efrati)

7:30 P.M. Yamina party head Bennett tells Knesset gov't has done 'nothing' to address the pandemic

In a particularly emotional speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, Naftali Bennett, the head of the opposition Yamina party, chided the government over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, repeatedly stating: "What have you done? Nothing!"

Bennett, a former education minister and defense minister, is a frequently critic of the government's handling of the pandemic. "You are ruining the lives of millions of citizens of Israel. You are killing them. You are killing them from within," said. "People are dying! Have you gone crazy? Pick yourselves up. Understand that we have a nation that is dying." (Jonathan Lis)

7:10 P.M. Health Ministry considering shortening quarantine for medical personnel to 10 days

The Health Ministry is considering cutting  the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 for medical personnel placed in quarantine over possible exposure to the coronavirus. Their release, would be subject to a COVID-19 test. The shorter quarantine period would ease the heavy workload that medical staff are under as a result of the recent spike in cases in Israel. Medical sources say the number of medical staff in quarantine who are later found to be infected is very low, and that shortening the period would significantly boost the health care system.

Policy regarding confirmed carriers of the virus was recently changed and now allows asymptomatic patients to end their period of isolation after 10 days, with a doctor's approval. Patients have who have had symptoms can be released from isolation after 13 days if they are asymptomatic for the final three days and obtain the approval of their doctor. (Ido Efrati)

06:00 P.M. National Security Council: routine life can't continue with current infection rates

Israel's National Security Council is warning that "we can't continue our lives" as we have with the rate of coronavirus infection that the country is experiencing, and the steps currently being taken to curb the pandemic are insufficient. The council's stance, which appears in a presentation for Wednesday evening's meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, provides backing for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking more stringent limitations on public activity. 

The meeting is expected to include debate on a proposal that would ease current countrywide weekend restrictions and replace them with restrictions in areas where the rate of infection is particularly high. Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu has opposed the countrywide restrictions as unjustified.

The security council's presentation includes mention that the rate of increase in new COVID-19 cases has stabilized, as has the number of patients in serious condition and those on ventilators. But the number of new cases continues to rise, as has the number of deaths and patients in the hospital, and "the steps up to now have not led to a change in direction in the trend of infection," the presentation states. 

The presentation describes the range of options as follows: Making do with the current policies, which the council said would entail concern that the pandemic will spiral out of control, along with the diplomatic, economic and social price involved; strict limitations in so-called "red" zones or less severe new restrictions countrywide that the council said would "increase internal tensions and require a major allocation of resources to enforce"; or a lockdown. (Noa Landau)

11:45 A.M. Deputy minister quarantined after contact with a carrier

Deputy Public Security Minister and Likud MK Gadi Yevarkan announced that he had contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient last week. He released a statement saying that the Health Ministry informed him yesterday that he came into contact with the patient during a tour he took as part of his duties.

He said an epidemiological investigation into whether or not he needs to self-isolate has begun. "It's important for me to note that I am following the Health Ministry guidelines at all times and wearing a mask. As an elected official I have decided to immediately enter quarantine until I receive the results of the [coronavirus] test." He said that he feels well and is experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms.(Josh Breiner)

11:37 A.M. Over 500 more diagnosed since last night

According to Health Ministry data, 76,763 Israelis have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since the outbreak began, and 565 diagnosed since last night. Of those, 24,866 are active cases. 

There are 355 patients in serious condition, and 104 on ventilators. Three more Israelis have died of COVID-19 since last night, marking 564 deaths. 

TUESDAY

11:30 P.M. Israel registers 1,768 new cases, eight more deaths Tuesday

Israel's number of confirmed cases rose by 1,768 on Tuesday, bringing nationwide tally to 76,198. According to Health Ministry data, there are currently 25,801 active cases, out of which 99 are on ventilators. The ministry also registered eight more deaths from the virus, raising the death toll to 561.

So far, 49,834 people have recovered. (Haaretz) 

8:10 P.M. 1,395 new coronavirus cases diagnosed, 13 deaths

1,395 new cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed since Monday night, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 342 of those with the virus are in serious condition, with 99 of those on ventilators. 13 Israeli's have died of the virus since Monday night, putting the death toll from the pandemic at 559. (Haaretz)

4:52 P.M. Tel Aviv Municipality to allow weddings at designated public locations

The Tel Aviv Municipality has announced that it will allow weddings of up to 20 participants to be held at several public sites, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines. The municipality will also provide celebrants with electrical infrastructure, tables, chairs and white tablecloths. The service will also be provided to LGBTQ couples. Also, for those couples interested, the rabbinate will assist in providing a large number of ketubahs (Jewish marriage contracts) free of charge.

Weddings will be permitted to be held from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM on weekdays, and from 10:00 AM until the beginning on Shabbat or Fridays. The designated sites for weddings include: Rocks Park in Jaffa, Sporteque North and the Wohl Amphitheater in Ganei Yehoshua, Menachem Begin Park, the botanical gardens near Park Hahorshot and the Old Train Station. (Bar Peleg)

1:14 P.M National Security Council to present plan allowing Israelis to travel abroad, top official says

Deputy head of the National Security Council, Eytan Ben-David, said the council has crafted a plan allowing Israeli nationals to travel to 10 countries whose illness rate is low, dubbed “green areas,” and nationals of those countries would also be allowed to visit Israel.

According to Ben-David, the plan will be submitted to the Knesset Coronavirus Cabinet. He added that Israelis flying back from those countries won’t be required to enter quarantine upon arrival.”

Ben-David also said that since Israel’s rate of illness in considered among the highest in the world, a lot of countries bar entry to Israeli nationals or require that they enter quarantine once they arrive. (Jonathan Lis)

12:03 P.M. Health minister says ban on opening non-essential businesses on weekends to be revoked 

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that Israel has decided to rescind the order to shutter businesses deemed non-essential on weekends, adding that the move would be redundant and only hurt the public.

“There’s no proof it’s helping anyone, and in my opinion apart from harming the public it does nothing,” Edelstein said while speaking at a press briefing at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.

The Edelstein added that in recent weeks 200 jobs for doctors, 2,000 for nurses and 750 for medical staffers have opened, calling it an “impressive achievement.”

Edelstein also spoke about the meeting held by the Knesset Coronavirus Cabinet on Monday. “Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy and coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu will soon release their recommendations regarding future steps to battle the virus. At the moment, we’ve managed to curb the spike in infection rate,” but we have to flatten the curve to prevent the hospital from being overwhelmed. “We will make an effort to set homogenous regulations for all the sectors in Israel,” he said.

Edelstein added that “This all depends on the behavior of the public.” (Haaretz)

11:27 A.M. Health Ministry opposes Jewish New Year Uman pilgrimage

Health Ministry representative Dr. Asher Shalmon expressed the ministry's opposition to Jewish pilgrims traveling to Uman, where thy mark the Jewish New Year at the burial site of an 18th century rabbi, citing coronavirus concerns.

Shalmon added that the authorities in Ukraine should also act to stop the pilgrimage.

“Our professional opinion is that an event in which 30,000 people congregate in one street cannot take place, and the only way to prevent it is that Ukrainian authorities get involved and take proper action,” Shalmon said. (Jonathan Lis)  

11:22 A.M. Confirmed cases top 75,000 as Israel registers eight more deaths

Israel's number of confirmed cases rose by 653 since yesterday, bringing nationwide tally to 75,083. According to Health Ministry data, there are currently 24,764 active cases, out of which 97 are on ventilators. The ministry also registered eight more deaths from the virus, raising the death toll to 554.

So far, 49,763 people have recovered. (Haaretz) 

9:55 A.M. Gantz, army chief approve appointment of virus command center head

Following the decision to establish a command and control center to battle the coronavirus and delegate the authority to the army, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi approved the appointment of Brig. Gen. Nissan Davidi as the commander of the control center. Davidi previously served as the Chieff Logistics Officer for the Home Front Command and the Northern Command. (Amos Harel and Yaniv Yaniv Kubovich)

9:22 A.M. Over 800 new cases diagnosed since Monday night

The Health Ministry said 801 people have tested positive for the coronavirus since Monday night, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 74,903. Israel currently has 24,598 active cases, out of which 101 people are on ventilators. The country's death toll remains at 546.

The ministry added that 22,396 coronavirus tests were conducted on Monday. (Haaretz)

MONDAY

11:44 P.M. Otherwise healthy woman in advanced pregnancy on ventilator with COVID-19

A woman in her 30s who is 29 weeks pregnant has been in a Tel Aviv hospital for around a week, sedated and on a ventilator due to COVID-19.

Officials at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) say her condition has improved and she may be able to breathe on her own soon. A senior physician said tests indicate that her fetus is healthy. (Ido Efrati)

>> Click here to read the full report

8:00 P.M. Five more die, over 1,200 new cases Monday

The total number of coronavirus cases in Israel has risen by 1,287 on Monday to reach 74,102, according to the Health Ministry, while the number of active cases stands at 26,005.

Five more people have died on Monday, bringing the death toll to 546. There are currently 334 patients in serious condition. The number of people on ventilators stands at 99. (Haaretz)

6:55 P.M. Police shut down 28 businesses for coronavirus violations

The police has ordered so far 28 businesses to close for violating coronavirus regulatios, police representative told a Knesset committee. 59 additional bussinesses were issued warnings. (Jonathan Lis)

2:10 P.M. Netanyahu cautiously welcomes plateau in infection rate, says September expected to be worse

The prime minister said the illness rate remained high in Israel compared to the rest of the world, and that this could lead to "a large number" of deaths. 

Speaking at the beginning of a meeting of the so-called coronavirus cabinet, he said that the number of new infections was rising, but slowly, which meant the health system was not currently at risk of being overwhelmed.

However, this is not a satisfactory situation, he said. "Our aim is to break the chain of infection, which is very difficult to do when you have thousands of new patients every day. We need both digital and human means to catch and trace the contagion chains," he added.

He warned against complacency, noting that the situation would likely become worse when the school year begins in September. (Noa Landau)

2:05 P.M. Knesset coronavirus committee heads slams government for failing to reopen cultural industry

Lawmaker Yifat Shasha-Biton, who heads the parliamentary committee overseeing the government's coronavirus response, criticized the executive's failure to either allow cultural events to resume, or at least draw up a roadmap to do so.

It's not the first time that Shasha-Biton, a representative of the Kulanu faction within Likud, comes head to head with the government

The main point of contention she raised, echoed by other actors in the industry, is the fact that attendance can generally be controlled in the kind of ticketed artistic events that characterizes the industry. 

Others in the committee were also critical of the double standards adopted by the government, after it decided to allow thousands of students to enter the country for religious studies. (Jonathan Lis

11:40 A.M. 20 new beds added to country’s hospitals since beginning of coronavirus outbreak

Twenty new hospital beds have been added to the country’s medical facilities since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak several months ago, according to a report by the Knesset’s research and information center. The report further said that the Health Ministry has figures on the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, but not precise numbers on hospital bed occupancy for coronavirus patients in all hospitals. The Knesset center’s study of the issue found that bed occupancy was not higher in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with some hospitals even showing lower occupancy. (Jonathan Lis)

11:00 A.M. Five more people die, cases rise by 416 since Sunday

The total number of people with the coronavirus has risen by 416 since Sunday to reach 73,231, according to the Health Ministry, while the number of active cases standing at 25,167.

Five more people have died, bringing the death toll to 541. There are currently 783 people who are hospitalized, 334 of them in serious condition. The number of people on ventilators has risen by two to 100. (Haaretz)

10:40 A.M. Coronavirus czar approves entry of 17,000 students in coming months

Coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu has approved the entry of 17,000 university and yeshiva students into the country, most of them foreign, in the coming  months. According to numbers presented in a Sunday meeting to discuss the issue, the thousands of students, mostly from the U.S., include some 12,000 yeshiva students.

The also include 5,000 participants in Masa programs, 2,000 university students, 1,500 students at private institutions, and 500 participants in a program to help foreign students receive an Israeli matriculation certificate. Gamzu said that students will only be allowed in institutions that commit to ensuring that incoming students quarantine in capsules of up to six people and are administered coronavirus tests during the period of isolation.

As most of the students are not Israeli, they faced the possibility of not being allowed to enter the country after the civil aviation authority told airlines that it was forbidden to allow non-residents to enter until September. Following enormous pressure on the government placed recently by ultra-Orthodox political party heads calling for allowing yeshiva students to arrive, Interior Minister Arye Dery and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein approved their arrival, which has now also been approved by Gamzu. (Ido Efrati)

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