Israel has recorded 3,290 new coronavirus cases since Tuesday, with 234 in serious condition, data from the Health Ministry revealed Wednesday, one day after a slew of tightened gathering restrictions were announced.
Israel has recorded a slight drop in the percentage of positive tests, with 3.35 percent of coronavirus tests returning positive. Over 205,000 Israelis have received their third coronavirus vaccine dose, according to Israel's health ministry.
"Our goal is to keep Israel open while preventing a situation where hospitals fill up, and we'll have a shortage of beds," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the opening of a COVID-19 testing center earlier on Wednesday, adding that "we know how to slam on the breaks" if such a situation arises.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said that the government sees another lockdown as a measure of last resort and that it can still be avoided if the public follows restrictions and if more people get vaccinated. "We will do the maximum to avoid a lockdown," he said.
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Israel’s coronavirus cabinet concluded a three-hour-long meeting on Tuesday by announcing a series of new COVID-19 restrictions, as the country plunged deeper into a post-vaccination delta variant wave. The new regulations, including limiting gatherings to those with proof of immunity and encouraging working from home, will go into effect on Sunday.
A “green passport” – a document showing that someone has either been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or recently tested negative for it – will now be required for entry to events with fewer than 100 people.
The coronavirus cabinet also recommended that private companies have employees work from home, while government ministries will have to reduce the number of employees working in the office to 50 percent.
Children, who are exempt from the so-called green passport requirement, will now have to show a negative test result before entering such events. People will have to wear masks even at outdoor events with more than 100 people.
Also on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a call-up order for 1,000 reservists to help the army deal with the spread of the virus. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with the heads of all the parties in the governing coalition and said that additional restrictions had to be imposed now, since otherwise, Israel will likely have 800 seriously ill patients in another 20 days or so.
Earlier Tuesday, the government announced that arrivals from 18 countries would have to quarantine for a week, regardless of vaccination status, beginning on August 11.