The country that appeared to put the coronavirus pandemic behind it months ago after a world-leading vaccination campaign is now reimposing regulations in a bid to quell infections.
The cabinet approved the tougher measures – including limitations on people meeting indoors and restricting entry to venues and restaurants to “green pass” holders – as new cases of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus outbreak despite widespread vaccination against COVID-19.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the government will “give the country’s health care system a boost” as new cases of the coronavirus continue their meteoric rise.
He said Israel needs to prepare for a massive hospitalization situation and is allocating 2.5 billion shekels ($ 774 million) to help increase the capacity of hospitals across the country.
Despite its vaccination campaign, Israel has seen new cases of the coronavirus increase in recent weeks. The health ministry on Wednesday recorded 5,755 new cases, the highest daily figure since February, and severe cases rose from 19 in mid-June to 400.
At least 6,580 Israelis have died from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
The government largely lifted restrictions on coronaviruses in May following its vaccination campaign, but with the increase in new infections, reinstated limitations on gatherings and indoor mask warrants.
More than 58% of the country’s 9.3 million citizens have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Israel had obtained a large quantity of Pfizer vaccines in exchange for exchanging medical data.
Earlier this month, Israel began administering third doses of the vaccine to immunocompromised people and citizens over the age of 60.