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Israeli Govt. Debates Releasing Coronavirus Restrictions to Save Economy

04-16-2020
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel’s government will hold a special hearing on Thursday to discuss the gradual release of restrictions implemented to control the coronavirus outbreak.

The Finance Ministry and Health Ministry are at odds over how quickly Israel should lift the rules, which currently bans Israelis from traveling more than 328 feet away from their homes and requires them to wear masks in public.

The Health Ministry believes Israelis cannot return to work until the country only sees 30 to 50 new patients per day. There are still hundreds of new coronaviruses cases every day and the ministry warns there could be a resurgence of cases if Israelis return to regular life prematurely.

“We don’t like the term ‘exit strategy’ but rather ‘routine under coronavirus,'” Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov told Israel’s Channel 13. “Because coronavirus is here. It’s not leaving us… We’ll have to take measured steps, see that things are under control and if they stay that way, go a little bit further every time.”

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry is concerned that the economy will not be able to recover if Israelis remain out of work for much longer. The unemployment currently stands at 26.1 percent and the tourism industry has come to a grinding halt.

The Ministry is pushing for the reopening of small shops on Sunday or Monday, but the Health Ministry believes it is too early for such a move, Channel 12 reported.

Both sides agree that the lifting of restrictions should be slow and steady.

As of Thursday morning, more than 12,500 people have been infected with COVID-19 and at least 140 people have died. More than 2,600 people have recovered from the virus.

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