Israel’s coronavirus cabinet late Monday night decided on a total reopening of the country, returning to activity all schools in cities not severely hit by the virus and opening all restaurants and entertainment venues, starting Sunday. The move comes despite a concerning rise in the virus’s basic reproduction figure, which on Sunday crossed the 1 threshold. Health officials hope the mass vaccination campaign, which so far has covered nearly 3.5 million Israelis, will help protect the Jewish state from another unchecked spread, which could necessitate a fourth total lockdown. Jerusalem’s Health Ministry Director-General Hezi Levi on Tuesday admitted political considerations have affected the decision-makers’ push to lift the closure, saying he did not understand Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “zigzagging” on the issue of restrictions. “These [cabinet] discussions are tainted by election panic, undoubtedly. It’s concerning,” Levi also said. Nearly 6,000 Israelis have died since the pandemic began last year, placing Israel 50th worldwide in deaths per capita.
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