Opposition head Yair Lapid strongly criticized the government's decision to institute a lockdown beginning this Friday before the Rosh Hashannah holiday.
"The lockdown which the government has decided upon is a disaster. What's their plan? A lockdown will kill those businesses who have only just recovered. And for what? There is no healthcare plan and no economic plan. A lockdown isn't a plan, it's an admission of failure. Netanyahu failed, this government failed and now they want us to pay the price. More people will die during a lockdown from suicide and heart attacks than coronavirus," Lapid said at the start of the weekly Yesh Atid faction meeting Monday.
"Israel currently has 144 people on ventilators. Our hearts go out to every single one of them. But for 144 people on ventilators you don't close the economy of an entire country. That's not a policy. Even before the lockdown we were the leading country in the rate of businesses closing down. Yesterday they updated the forecast, 85,000 businesses will close this year. That's madness.
"The public won't abide by the rules. I'm against civil disobedience but the public won't obey the rules. For five months the government has driven them crazy. The traffic light system and then cancelling the traffic light system. Night time lockdown and then cancelling the night time lockdown. Now a complete lockdown. This isn't management, it is hysteria from a nervous Prime Minister.
"What's the logic of closing down places of work that have prepared for working alongside the virus, made all the arrangements, are working according to the regulations. Why close a café in a small green town where people sit in small capsules in the open air? Why can ten strangers pray together but ten family members not eat together during the holidays? What's the sense in closing the hotels in Israel and telling people to go to hotels in Greece?
"People say to themselves that there's nothing to do, that it doesn't matter who is in government. That's not true. The whole world is managing the situation better than our government. Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, Finland. None of those places have gone to a second lockdown. There is no other country that's doing a second lockdown. The world has learnt to understand the coronavirus and knows that lockdowns aren't the solution. Even if the infection rate drops for a few weeks, it will spike again after another few weeks.
"Instead of shutting everyone in their homes, they should focus on the risk groups. The elderly and those with background illnesses, lockdown only red cities, increase enforcement in red cities even if a few politicians will shout about it.
"Instead of throwing away billions of shekels on a lockdown, take half of that money and invest it in the healthcare system. Combine the management of the hospitals in one place because not all the departments are full. We're a small country and we can direct patients from one hospital to another.
"If we go to a lockdown then at least put a proper economic plan on the table, give compensation to businesses quickly, before they collapse and not after. Pass a law providing unemployment benefits to the self-employed, get rid of the disastrous unpaid leave system which I've been warning about for months and move to the German model of paying through the employers.
"There are steps we can take both on the economic front and the healthcare front. Of all the options, a lockdown is the worst of them all. So of course this disconnected government has taken the worst decision of all and we'll pay the price," Lapid concluded.