Soldiers and police officers in Jerusalem
Soldiers and police officers in JerusalemPhoto by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman Tov on Saturday night called on Israelis to keep the coronavirus restrictions and not become complacent due to the eased lockdown.

"We are increasing the return to routine in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic," he said. "As always, our ability to succeed in the new stage depends only on us. If we adhere to the three rules - masks, distance, and hygiene - I believe we will be able to integrate routine with preventing the spread of the virus."

"Don't be complacent. I hear the voices that are saying that we exaggerated, but look around. Belgium, a country similar in size to Israel, has seen nearly 7,000 deaths. New York State, approximately twice the size of Israel, has seen over 21,700 deaths, and there are many more examples. We are happy that this is not the situation in Israel, and that's mostly thanks to the fact that we all kept the rules.

"But the danger has not passed - not of a renewed outbreak now, and not of a second wave at a later date, maybe in the winter. I believe that the government will reopen other activities in the coming days and weeks. This week, the Health Ministry will hold a professional discussion regarding routine during the outbreak, together with several other government ministries, including the Education Ministry."

However, Bar Siman Tov said, "the return to routine needs to be careful and safe, so that we can prevent a situation in which we will have to reduce the activity level again. Listen to [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, who is also returning Germany to routine slowly and carefully. We are in touch with many countries, we are learning and thinking together about safely returning to routine."

"We are also following Singapore, a country which is handling the coronavirus well, but which has recently seen a very difficult second outbreak. I understand the public's discourse right now and the criticism of me personally, but what's important right now is to continue, as a nation, to handle coronavirus well, the way we have until now."

So far, Israel has confirmed 15,298 coronavirus cases and seen 199 coronavirus deaths.