On Wednesday, the Office of the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, said that the indoor mask mandate, which is one of the few restrictions remaining in Israel because of COVID-19, would be lifted by the end of the week. A statement from the Prime Minister’s office cited the fall in morbidity in Israel and said that the premier and Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, were in agreement that the mask madate, which has been flouted widely, would be lifted as of 8 p.m. on Saturday. Previously, the mandate had been scheduled to expire on May 1st.
According to the statement, wearing masks would still be needed in areas with ‘high contagion potential’, which includes air travel, senior living facilities and hospitals. Likewise, people who will be going into quarantine also need to wear a mask. However, the Knesset Health Committee still needs to give its approval for lifting the mask mandate. The rules for wearing a mask had first been imposed back in April 2020 in the initial days of the pandemic. Since then, Israelis have been required to wear masks, with the exception of 10 days last year in June. The mandate had been lifted briefly, but had eventually been imposed once more because cases had surged in Israel.
Bennett paraphrased a Hebrew phrase with a Passover-theme that denotes sturdiness in a tweet and said that they had gotten through Pharaoh and the Omicron. He said that this year people would be able to celebrate a popular Jewish Moroccan celebration called Mimuna without masks, which comes after Passover. The announcement was made by Bennett’s office two days after the federal requirement of wearing masks was struck down by a judge in the United States. Following the ruling, many government agencies and companies announced that the mandate would no longer be enforced.
As per the US Justice Department, they would only decide to appeal the ruling if it has the support of the Center for Disease Control. The decision of lifting the mask mandate also comes when there is a prominent decline in morbidity in Israel, with a week-by-week decline in newly diagnosed cases, serious ones as well as the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the statistics from the Health Ministry showed that the total number of active cases in the country is about 32,480, which includes around 222 people who are in hospitals because of a serious condition.
As for the death toll since the beginning of the pandemic, it stands at about 10,647, as there were a dozen deaths that had been recorded in the past week. There had been a slight increase in the transmission rate, which is a major statistic that measures the spread of the virus. It rose to 0.75, but remains under 1. This means that the virus is in decline, while a reading of more than 1 shows that the virus is spreading. It is definitely encouraging, as the ‘R’ number has been in decline consistently for the last few weeks.