Tuesday morning, the third stage of Israel’s coronavirus exit plan swung into action with shopping centers in towns and the “tourist islands” of Eilat and Dead Sea shores reopening after months of closure. The coronavirus cabinet Monday night approved these and other measures, under strict health rules, after many hours of debate. All stores must comply with the four-person limit and hotel guests come armed with recent positive covid tests. Another four school classes were given the green light – grades 4-5 go back to class next Tuesday and grades 1-12 a week later.
The health authorities warn, however, that some of these relaxations may be premature, taken in the excitement of the exceptionally high results achieved in the vaccine trials of two big pharmaceutical firms. They warn that the vaccines will not be available for several months, pending final tests, FDA approval and success in overcoming transport and distribution hurdles. Meanwhile, a third virus surge and lockdown await in the coming winter unless rigorous health discipline is maintained.
Tuesday morning, the Health Ministry reported 861 new covid cases, raising the active total to 8,030, with 313 in serious condition and 2,735 fatalities. However, the results of tests dropped to 1.8pc positive.