Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting
Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting Kobi Gideon/GPO

The Cabinet ministers are meeting to discuss the extension of the lockdown in light of the continuing spread of the coronavirus in Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the beginning of the Cabinet meeting: "The mutation is raging all over the world. In Germany, Britain and many countries around the world there is talk of tight lockdowns for weeks and months, some even talk until April. 80% of the morbidity in Israel today is from the British mutation, it is a change in the situation."

"The morbidity in the country is very high, unfortunately there is only a moderate decrease in the number of patients in serious condition and therefore the distress and burden in the hospitals is very high," he said.

Netanyahu spoke about the progress of the vaccination campaign, "We are the only country that is coping with some success with the British mutation because of the millions of vaccines we have here. Today we started vaccinating Israeli citizens over the age of 16, but the most important thing is that every Israeli over the age of 50 will be vaccinated."

''It should be understood, 97% of mortality is among people over the age of 50, and 92% of the serious morbidity is among people over the age of 50. Everyone, go get vaccinated - but first of all people over the age of 50 - go get vaccinated. Among those aged 60 and over, there has been a 26% decrease in the number of people hospitalized in serious condition and a decrease of about 45% in the number of verified cases in the last sixteen days. This is a direct result of the vaccines."

The Prime Minister implored the citizens of Israel: '' Go get vaccinated. The vaccines work. So if you get vaccinated - we can gradually get out of the corona crisis and open our economy carefully and responsibly. This is the order of the day and we will discuss it today at the Cabinet meeting."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz called for the opening of trade and the abolition of the restrictions on travel. “When there’s no other choice, we shut down; but when we can open up, we should. I think that right now we can and should start reopening. ‘Red’ areas will stay in lockdown, and we’ll offer them the assistance they need. The differential indexes should include regional vaccination percentages. Our policy should be two-tiered: First, start with the easier things, like lifting restrictions on movement, opening business where service is one-one, allowing synagogue service of up to 10 people, allowing vacation rentals to host nuclear families, opening nature reserves, allowing professional sports to operate and other things."

"Second, starting next week, we should start reopening schools under a workable and agreed-upon plan, start opening businesses under “purple badge” regulations, and start adopting a “green badge” approach applicable everywhere, including gyms. I believe that lockdown has stopped being the sole working plan and solution and that we need to begin opening the economy in a gradual and measured way.”