Fear of Israel Rosh Hashana lockdown

WILL Israel have a Covid-19 lockdown on Rosh Hashana? That’s the question Israelis fear... but have been too afraid to ask. Until now.

With coronavirus cases soaring, some experts believe that if stronger action is not taken fast, the country will spend another Rosh Hashana under lockdown.

Nachman Ash, the new director general of the health ministry, says that a lockdown remains a possibility for the High Holy Day period.

“I think that it could be that we’ll get to the point where we’ll say, ‘We need a lockdown’,” he told Israel’s Channel 13 News.

“I’m worried we might get there... in a few weeks, it’s possible we’ll get there.”

However, Ash says he is hopeful that with proper behaviour and enforcement, a lockdown — which would be Israel’s fourth — will not be necessary.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also tried to sound upbeat.

“We can beat coronavirus in five weeks — it’s just up to us,” he said.

Contrasting his new government with that of his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, he claimed “that for us, jailing people in their homes is a last resort”.

Beating the prospect of a nationwide lockdown over Rosh Hashana in seven weeks’ time depended in part on people wearing masks indoors to suppress the spread of the Delta variant.

“The easiest thing is to do what they did in the past year-and-a-half — to announce a lockdown,” Bennett added. “But we prefer a different approach.

“For us, locking people in their homes is something we are loathe to do.”

The fears of a New Year lockdown came as the country recorded 1,372 new coronavirus cases on Monday — the highest tally in over four months.

The health ministry said there are 7,924 active virus cases in the country. A month ago that figure was around 200.

The prospect of a lockdown also comes only a month after social distancing and mask rules were dropped.

Meanwhile, Nachman Ash also revealed that Israel is waiting for more information on the safety and efficacy of a third dose of the vaccine.

He said: “We will reach a decision on the matter in the coming weeks. Almost certainly, those aged 60 and upwards will be the first to receive the booster shot.”

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