The warning bells have sounded. With a steep increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks and over 500 in the past 24 hours, the “Corona Cabinet” is in discussions to set down, or retract, some freshly laid guidelines. Police forces have been asked to strictly enforce social distancing in crowds, as well as wearing masks. The fine for not wearing a mask in public has increased from NIS 200 to NIS 500.
Hospitals have been requested to re-open their corona wards, and expect new patients, as over 4,000 cases are still confirmed with COVID-19. While most are managing at home, some say the severity of the virus has gone up. To date, there are 42 people on ventilators, and a total of 308 have died.
While events are allowed up to 250 people, there is a thought about removing the rule. Of about 8,200 people tested on Sunday, about 161 were said to have the virus. With this sampling, about 2.3% of the population may be carriers, a worrying statistic for those who might be vulnerable amidst a virus often asymptomatic.
While the corona crisis continues, the economic crisis seems to be just getting started, as many Israelis fear not being able to put food on their table. Since the mid-March lockdown, the unemployment rate jumped from 4% to 24%, and over a million Israelis remain unemployed. Those currently receiving unemployment benefits are due to run out at the end of July. If not extended, this will bring over 469,300 into a “poor” status, over 70% of them under the age of 27. It is said that those who are retired over the age of 67 will also no longer be provided benefits.
Despite the economic issues, thousands of young people still want to visit Israel. The Ministry of Interior did approve special entry, with 14 days quarantine, for those slated to join long-term programs; however, the majority of short-term experiences have been canceled. Such programs bring in about $300 million into the Israeli economy. This year, it might only be one-third of that. As the country continues to experience the effects of the coronavirus, one thing is certain: wear your masks.