Netanyahu: 1 million vaccines to arrive within a week, economy to open gradually

“If there are no more surprises, we can gradually reopen the economy,” said the prime minister during a meeting in which the Cabinet announced extension of Israel’s national lockdown until Friday.

By World Israel News Staff

While the Israeli government on Sunday extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown for an additional five days, until Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to project a rosier picture in his comments during the weekly Cabinet meeting.

According to the prime minister, Israel expects about a million more vaccine doses to arrive within a week.

“If there are no more surprises, then we can gradually reopen the economy and [the] education [system],” he added.

“We are in the midst of a race to vaccinate as many Israeli citizens as possible [to fight] the spread of the mutations,” added Netanyahu, according to a Channel 20 report.

“During the past day, I have had discussions with the ministers of Health and Education regarding a gradual opening in the coming days of the education system, starting with the lower grades, and 11th and 12th grade students who are being immunized,” said the prime minister.

Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz responded, “We welcome the the vaccines, but the lockdowns can’t continue for an extended time.”

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Following the meeting, the Cabinet announced it will convene on Wednesday for discussion on extending the lockdown further.

In addition to the lockdown extension, the Cabinet approved maintaining “the ban on entry to, and exit from, Israel, apart from exceptions, pursuant to the existing regulations, for an additional seven days.” That would be until Feb. 7 at midnight.

The Cabinet also approved the establishment of a committee to sign off on requests for exceptions to the ban for humanitarian and other special reasons. That committee will be chaired by Minister Yuval Steinitz or someone else on his behalf and will consist of representatives from the Interior, Foreign Affairs, Health, Transportation, Diaspora Affairs and Aliyah and Absorption Ministries.

The number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized in serious condition in Israel remains high, and mutations of the virus from the UK, South Africa and Los Angeles are also wreaking havoc.

Over 1,100 hospitalized corona patients are in serious condition, and over 300 of them are on life support.

As of Monday, over three million Israelis had received the first dose of the Pfizer-developed vaccine, representing over 33.4% of the total population.