Israel’s corona cabinet makes some headway, talks will continue tomorrow

The timeline relating to the opening of the economy remains a sticking point.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Some decisions were reached by Israel’s corona cabinet on Sunday, mainly concerning international travel. Talks regarding the opening the economy will continue into Monday, the Prime Minister’s Office said. However, at least one decision regarding the economy was reached.

The government agreed that benefits will be granted to those who’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said those people would enjoy additional benefits related to hotels, restaurants, sporting events, museums and cultural events.

The cabinet also approved the Transportation Minister’s outline for flights to and from Israel during the closed skies period, agreeing to a total of up to 2,000 travelers a day. Israel closed its skies to travelers, with few exceptions, from Jan. 25 through Feb. 20.

The cabinet said it would advance legislative amendments to give Ben-Gurion Airport inspectors additional authority. It was not detailed what those authorities would be in the Prime Minister Office’s statement.

The timeline relating to the opening of the economy remains a sticking point. Blue and White party members led by Benny Gantz urged for vaccination benefits to start Sunday next week. The Health Ministry wants to wait until Tuesday of next week. A decision is expected to be reached tomorrow (Monday).

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The government did agree on restrictions during the Purim holiday, which begins next Thursday, to prevent large gatherings.

Netanyahu stressed the importance of a gradual opening of the economy at the meeting. “We must not push for a quick and irresponsible opening of the economy for political motives, which would endanger the lives of many Israelis,” he said.

Netanyahu said the economy would open in two stages with the first next week and the second two weeks from then.

He also spoke of the largely successful vaccination drive. He said Israel would next vaccinate everyone age 50 and up. “I remind you of the most dramatic figure, according to which 97% of the dead and 93% of the seriously ill are in this group,” he said.

Netanyahu was backed up by corona czar Nachman Ash, who warned the government it should go slowly with the loosening of the economy. He estimated that restaurants and cafes would open in red, yellow and orange cities where 70% of the population has been vaccinated around March 9.

Cyprus and Greece have separately signed understandings with Israel regarding a return of tourism. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was in Israel on Monday when the tourism agreement between his country and Israel was signed.