Night curfew in Jerusalem
Night curfew in JerusalemYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Public Health Physicians Association in Israel Chairman Prof. Hagai Levin spoke on 103 FM about COVID-19, and ways public health doctors recommend to deal with it.

Referring at the outset to the possibility of a night curfew, he said: "My position is that one should avoid trying to pull rabbits out of the hat. One should act according to an orderly plan, not confuse the public, and one should focus on preventing dangerous activities. If the dangerous activity is gatherings in the evening, then gatherings in the evening should be avoided, and not a sweeping step to prevent freedom of movement of people who may want to go out for a run in the evening, because this is the time that suits them and is convenient for them.

"Now, there is a way to do it. We proposed through the Civil Cabinet, to appoint and fund health promotion activists in the communities from the neighborhoods themselves, as they know the people in their neighborhood best and they can prevent gatherings by joint action within the neighborhood."

He said, "In order for people not to congregate, you need to have intrinsic motivation. If from within the community, people turn up and say, 'Listen, you're endangering us,' they are much more attentive than if the government and police centrally trying to prevent people from walking the streets, and people just disregard it.

"Therefore, there's no public health without the public. One should stop trying to control the public centrally, even though there is room for enforcement as well. But to focus on actions that work together with the public, because the majority of the public wants ti live and most of them understand that these gatherings endanger them."

On the claim that if no action is taken now, a third closure could be reached, Prof. Levin said, "This is one approach, or there's another approach that says, 'We're in the State of Israel, we cannot hold for a long time a situation where fifth to twelfth grades are without an education system, we cannot hold the economic crisis, because, simply, people will not listen to us, so there is no choice. We need to enable vital activities, focus on preventing serious morbidity and mortality, strengthen the health care system, and understand that we need to find the most reasonable solutions possible in the current reality, and not try things that just will not happen. You can say all sorts of things, but we see that the government is failing to implement its policies and control the situation in the current way."

On opening hotels in Eilat and the Dead Sea, Levin said, "This is really a dilemma, the point is that solutions can be found. We need to think about how to do it, how to enable an activity that is less dangerous. The outline of Eilat makes a lot of sense, but it lies in the small details at the end. We have seen how a possibility is invented for mass testing, but then it turns out that no such array has been established. Therefore, the small details must not bore us. In Eilat, all in all, we are public health doctors, in favor of solutions of the kind like in Eilat, but it depends on the small details, for example, a dining room is one of the most dangerous things.

"It is more correct to invest the money and effort in providing room service; everyone will get the food to their room, and there will be no mass gathering in the dining room. If you look for solutions, you can find them."

Towards the end of the conversation, Prof. Levin clarified: "Whoever thinks that it is possible to open a business or an education system in a promiscuous way, as we were used to before COVID-19, then hes really endangering us all. We need to find ways to enable activity in the safest way possible. This is also the message that the government needs to send to the public - it's not that the street shops are being opened now, and everything is as usual. Even now, when opening them, one should, if possible, stay outside, let a few people in, take care of masks.

"If we as Israelis do not learn to behave properly in COVID-19, then we will really see a recurrence of morbidity. And we argue that even then, closure is not the right means, even then people should be allowed to go outside, because in the open air, it's the safest. But then we will definitely have to bring back some of the restrictions."