Government to discuss extending lockdown until Sunday

Blue and White expected to push back against Health Ministry demand to extend lockdown by two more days.

Nitzan Kedar ,

Police checkpoint for coronavirus lockdown
Police checkpoint for coronavirus lockdown
Nati Shohat/Flash90

Israel's government will meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss whether to continue the lockdown, which is set to expire on Friday morning at 7:00a.m.

The discussion, which will be held at 1:00p.m. Thursday, had been originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was rescheduled.

The Blue and White party is refusing to cooperate with the Health Ministry's demand to continue the lockdown until Sunday, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who heads the party, is expected to present an "exit plan."

Last week, Gantz demanded the passage of the "Fines Law" in exchange for extending the lockdown by one week, but after the Fines Law passed, he agreed to extend the lockdown by just five days.

Meanwhile, Israel's cabinet of coronavirus experts has recommended that the exit from the lockdown take place in at least two stages, separated by at least two weeks.

The cabinet has also recommended that only vaccinated teachers return to frontal teaching, and that those who are unvaccinated continue teaching via Zoom. They have also recommended reopening preschools and grades 1-2 in "green" areas, using the capsule method.

In "yellow" areas, the experts recommended only reopening preschools through second grade on condition that everyone be tested for coronavirus on a weekly basis. Regarding grades 11-12, they recommended testing everyone on a weekly basis, and later on, only allowing those who were vaccinated to return to in-person school.

Earlier, the Military Intelligence Directorate's Information and Knowledge Center warned that reopening schools would lead to another rise in the infection rate, and to a resurgence of the virus.

Israel's Health Ministry believes restrictions should only be eased on Monday, while Blue and White is pushing to ease restrictions starting from Friday. There may be a compromise under which restrictions will be eased beginning on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, at least 181 have died of coronavirus since Sunday morning, and an average of 7,092 new cases are diagnosed each day. In addition, the number of infants under age two who are diagnosed with coronavirus has skyrocketed from 377 in November to 5,780 in January. Last week, a two-month-old infant died of coronavirus.