Netanyahu to make announcement on lockdown

Prime Minister says government may need to impose stricter limitations during lockdown. 'I won't hesitate to make restrictions tougher.'

David Rosenberg , | updated: 21:20

Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a press conference Thursday night, following emergency consultations with senior health officials in a teleconference, regarding the possibility of imposing stricter restrictions during the upcoming lockdown.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, Coronavirus Czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu, and Health Ministry Director-General Hezy Levy took part in the consultations.

“We are about to enter the second lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic broke out across the globe,” said Netanyahu.

“This lockdown is important, this lockdown is necessary, and in this lockdown we will all stand together.”

Netanyahu said that during his visit this week to Washington DC, he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence about cooperation between the two countries in efforts to combat the pandemic.

Turning to the recently signed peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Netanyahu compared the deals favorably to previous agreements between Israel and Arab countries.

“That’s how you make peace: peace in exchange for peace. We’ve opened a new era of peace in the Middle East.”

The Prime Minister went on to say that additional Arab states are positioned to sign similar peace treaties with Israel."

"I'm telling you now, there will be more countries."

Netanyahu announced the government would offer a second financial aid package.

“We will give grants to integrate workers, we will expand the government-backed loan program, and we will cut salaries for senior executives.”

“We will give grants to companies to retain workers…we will give regular payments to businesses that have been harmed, including those which have suffered 25% or greater losses, not just 40% losses.”

“Back at the end of the first wave of the coronavirus, we said that one of the criteria for closing the country down again would be for the healthcare system to wave the red flag. They waved the red flag last week.”

Netanyahu discussed his recent discussion with senior health officials, including Coronavirus Czar Ronni Gamzu, regarding the recent increase in the number of positive tests.

“I asked them one question: Does this situation require us to make the restrictions more stringent?”

Vowing to hold a ‘meaningful’ discussion with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and other government ministers, Netanyahu said he believes, based on his conversation with Gamzu and other health officials, that stricter measures are needed for the upcoming lockdown, set to begin Friday afternoon.

“I won’t impose a lockdown on the Israeli people for no reason. But I also won’t hesitate to add restrictions if there is a need to. We are considering everything carefully.”

“If there is a big, geometric increase in the infection rate it isn’t just a matter of inconvenience or a larger number of patients. It means that even after we added more beds and respirators and we added more doctors and more nurses – at the end, the medical teams aren’t able to keep up the pace. There are limits. Then the number of fatalities goes up quickly. Then, when the number of fatalities goes up rapidly, you’ll come to me and ask, ‘Hey, why didn’t you do something about this?’”

“This current situation obligates us to do two things: wear masks and avoid mass-gatherings. Wear a mask, and avoid gatherings until we get a vaccine. On that there can be no compromises.”