Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Sunday plans for a gradual termination of the ongoing lockdown, urging Israelis to be patient and to continue to obey the restrictions on public activity.

In a video message released by the Prime Minister’s Office Sunday, Netanyahu expressed guarded optimism that the nationwide lockdown has succeeded in bringing down coronavirus infection rates.

“There are early signs of success, but we need a few more days to make sure, and even afterwards, the exit from the lockdown will be gradual, responsible, and careful.”

Netanyahu is set to meet with ministers Sunday evening to begin deliberations on the exit strategy, the prime minister said, adding that businesses and schools would start to open in the near future.

“I’m about to start now a deliberation with ministers ahead of a very important decision in the Coronavirus Cabinet Tuesday. I know that the lockdown has been hard for everyone, but I’m certain that the public understands that the decision on the lockdown, which I advocated, was necessary. It saved us from a geometric rise in infection rates, in death rates, and in the number of seriously ill patients. And it is still too early to say it has succeeded completely.”

“We’ll allow businesses with up to 10 employees which don’t receive large groups of people to reopen. We’ll also reopen school for young children, but we’ll reopen things in stages, carefully, with clear criteria for moving from one stage to the next.”