Seeking to contain the damage, Israel eyes a 4-month exit from second COVID lockdown


(JTA) — Israel’s health ministry will recommend a four-month plan to exit the current COVID-19 lockdown to government officials this week.

The exit strategy will involve nine stages that will likely take until February 2021, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Saturday.

A specific drop in the daily number of infections is required to trigger each stage.

Israel went into a second nationwide lockdown in mid-September after an alarming spike in coronavirus cases representing what many are calling the worst second wave of infections in the world.

Politicians across the spectrum admit that the country’s economy opened too quickly the first time around, and the health ministry’s strategy takes a much slower tack. The government’s coronavirus committee will need to approve the new plan.

The first stage, set to begin in a week, will not progress until there are less than 2,000 daily infections. It will open pre-schools and kindergartens, end the under-a-mile limit that people can travel from their homes, allow family visits and reopen Ben Gurion Airport. The second stage, tentatively set for the first of November, will not allow more than 1,000 daily infections; it would open school for first through fourth grade and open synagogues.

The third stage, aimed for two weeks later, will require less than 500 new coronavirus cases a day. It will reopen retail stores, gyms, malls and markets.

Cities and towns with high rates of infection could reopen more slowly if their numbers do not improve.

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