Infrastructure and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on Monday called on the government to impose a new 10-day nationwide lockdown to break off the rapid spread of COVID-19.
In an interview Monday morning with Ynet News, Steinitz said the country now risked severe long-term economic damage due to Europe’s ban on air travel to and from Israel.
The energy minister said that Israel had reopened its economy too quickly following the first wave of coronavirus pandemic. He recommends a “breathable” closure when it would still be possible for people to keep on working.
The European bloc’s council on Tuesday published a list of countries for which travel restrictions have been lifted. Israel’s infection rate of coronavirus has risen dramatically in recent weeks. It is 2.5 times higher than the one being used by the EU to determine the entry of foreign tourists.
He urges that being connected to the rest of the world for “more than two or three months” is “essential economy dangerous,” mentioning Israel’s cut from the list of countries with a low coronavirus infection rate. The omission means Israeli visitors are banned from entering Europe. “Sometimes it is better to make it difficult for ourselves for two weeks in order to make it easier for the rest of the year,” he said.
Yuval Steinitz also pointed out frightened shoppers leading many to remain at home, which is further damaging the economy.
“The public sees the number of infected and is afraid to consume,” he told Ynet. “We must reduce the contagion rate to improve the economy.”
Minister Steinitz admitted the government was too quick to reopen the nationwide lockdown and did not invest enough in the enforcement of public health orders.
“We have learned our lesson and this time we’ll be able to reopen not only the economy but also the aerial connection with the world.”