Crunch Time Arrives for Israeli Decision-Makers on Shutdown Relief
The Israeli cabinet will convene Thursday to discuss a partial reopening of the total lockdown placed on the nation for the second time last month. Israel’s coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu announced Thursday morning that in light of the continuing decrease in infections and deaths, he would recommend opening private businesses and preschools as soon as this coming Sunday, as a first step. On Wednesday, Israel recorded its first day of less than 2,000 new cases in over a month. The number of patients in serious condition also dropped under the Health Ministry’s official reopening benchmark of 800. Still, the cabinet meeting is expected to be tense and contentious, as health officials will demand keeping the cities hit hardest by the pandemic closed while others are liberated from all restrictions. This “differential shutdown” approach, essentially shutting down ultra-Orthodox communities – which have seen a consistent rise in infections and deaths – exclusively, is sure to enrage that sector’s representatives, who have vowed to oppose any alleged discrimination.