COVID cabinet to meet on green pass as Israel registers fourth wave peak


The coronavirus cabinet is set to meet on Wednesday to bring back the Green Pass system, a day after Israel registered the highest number of new coronavirus cases since March – 1,377.

While as of Tuesday night, with a meeting time not yet set, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz are expected to push for bringing back the green pass for all indoor gatherings of over 100 participants, in addition to the “Happy Badge” that was set to come into effect at midnight for weddings and all indoor events with over 100 people where food is served.

Both systems grant access to such gatherings only to individuals vaccinated, recovered or with a negative coronavirus test performed in the previous 72 hours.

Venues can also organize a rapid testing station for their audience, provided that they register at the Health Ministry.

According to the approved regulation, the responsibility of checking that participants are eligible to access the venue falls on the owners, who can be fined up to NIS 10,000 if they don’t comply (while individual participants who do not fulfill the requirements can be fined up to NIS 1,000).

In addition, any indoor business and public service is prohibited from providing service to their customers who do not wear a mask. A fine up to NIS 10,000 can be given to the owners, and up to NIS 1,000 to the customers who attended the obligation.

In preparation for the cabinet discussion, Horowitz and Bennett met with representatives of the industries to which the green pass is expected to apply.

“We will not slam regulations down on different sectors’ economies without real dialogue with the people in the field,” Horowitz said while meeting with gym owners. “Unlike in previous rounds, this time the Health Ministry is initiating an open discussion with the heads of the fitness industry to hear their needs, and to understand together how to reduce infection, with minimum harm to the economy and daily life. And yes, sport is health too.”

Horowitz, Bennett and Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper also met with a delegation from Israel’s culture industry.

“Our goal is to understand your world, and to think together about how on the one hand, we do not allow the world of culture to become a corona incubator, and on the other hand to permit culture, work and life,” said Tropper.

At the cabinet, the ministers are also expected to discuss the issue of the airport, which is considered a crucial point to limit the entrance of infected individuals and variants into the country.

Speaking to Ynet, Horowitz confirmed that they do not intend to close the airport.

“I believe that the only international airport in Israel has to remain open,” he said, adding that there are other considerations besides health issues.

At the same time though, Horowitz said that the direction they are considering is to require anyone who comes back from abroad to isolate for a certain period, regardless of the country of origin or the immunization status.

At the moment, the minimum quarantine period in Israel is seven days with a negative test at the beginning of the period and on the seventh day, however, according to a report in Hebrew media, health officials are considering proposing a shorter time, at least for vaccinated/recovered individuals from countries considered “low risk.”

According to reports, the topic has been very controversial among the ministers and a decision might be postponed.

Together with the number of cases registered on Monday, the rate of tests returning a positive result – 1.87% – as well as the number of tests processed – 77,000 – also marked a four-month record.

At the same time, the increase in serious morbidity remains limited. On Tuesday, the number of serious patients slightly decreased to 59, down from 62 in the morning and from 66 on Sunday. In the first half of June, there were some 20 patients in serious conditions with less than 200 active cases in the country. Now the number of active cases stands at about 8,000.

In a press briefing on Monday, Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash said that within two weeks Israel could see as many as 2,000 new daily cases, as well as 30 new serious patients a day shortly thereafter, since the rate of infected individuals who are turning serious stands at about 1.5%.

On the other hand, according to Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist for the Weizmann Institute of Science and an adviser to the government, the rate currently stands at about 1.2%, as opposed to 3.9% in the third wave, and therefore it is going to take a much higher number of daily cases – around 20,000 – to get to hundreds of serious cases at the same time.

Israel never registered such a high number of cases over 24 hours in the past; the highest was around 10,000 in a limited number of days at the peak of the pandemic, when there were some 1,200 serious patients, placing an unprecedented burden on the health system.





Read More:COVID cabinet to meet on green pass as Israel registers fourth wave peak

2021-07-20 18:53:00

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