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Israel Reimposes Covid Restrictions In Hopes of Avoiding a Lockdown

Israel Reimposes Covid Restrictions In Hopes of Avoiding a Lockdown
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Israel Reimposes Covid Restrictions In Hopes of Avoiding a Lockdown

Israel Reimposes Covid Restrictions In Hopes of Avoiding a Lockdown

With its population vaccinated against the coronavirus at a rapid rate and only a handful of new cases reported, Israel virtually declared victory over the virus earlier this year.

But now, as authorities across the country struggle to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, they are set to reintroduce restrictions, in what they say is a final attempt to prevent another lockdown.

The new measures, announced by the government on Tuesday evening, include expanding vaccine and mask requirements for some gatherings, a return to a work-from-home policy and more drastic travel restrictions. Some of the new restrictions are expected to take effect on Sunday and others later in August.

The reversal, which came just months after Israel reopened its economy and glimpsed a vaccinated post-pandemic future, is widely seen as a test for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who criticized his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for its management of the crisis.

“Our goal is to keep Israel open, but not to get to the point where hospitals will one day have to say, ‘There is no room, you cannot come in,'” Bennett said Wednesday at the meeting. of the inauguration of a vaccination center in Jerusalem. “We know when to step on the brakes. “

A country of nine million people where most citizens over 16 are fully immunized with the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Israel was among the first countries to offer a third dose to people with weakened immune systems , which he started doing last month. Israel has since started giving third doses to people aged 60 and over.

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Yet around one million Israelis eligible for vaccination have so far refused to do so, despite the widespread availability of the vaccine.

Authorities in Israel have been alarmed at the rapid increase in new cases reported daily in the country, which could be counted on the one hand in mid-June but have exceeded 3,000 in recent days, according to data from the Israeli ministry. health.

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