Despite being the most heavily vaccinated country in the world, Israel has just imposed new restrictions on its population, and the body responsible for generating its COVID policies just admitted that a lockdown in September is no longer a remote possibility.
Israel's coronavirus cabinet announced Tuesday night that starting Aug. 20, the country will revive its full green pass system. Starting Sunday, masks will be mandatory in all indoor and outdoor gatherings and even fully vaccinated parents responsible for caring for a child in quarantine will be demanded to isolate as well (for children 12 and under).
Israel reported nearly 4K new cases over the previous 24 hours it announced on Tuesday, the biggest daily jump in new cases since March, when the country's vaccination program was still in its infancy. Another 7 people were reported dead from COVID on Monday, bringing the 48 hour death toll to 17, the highest level in four months.
Israel's 'green pass' system grants access to places and activities only for people who have been fully vaccinated, who have recovered from COVID, or who tested negative in the past 72 hours. With the new restrictions, the system will only apply to gatherings with more than 100 people. But pretty soon, the restrictions could be tightened, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli Health Ministry announced that both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers coming to Israel from the US and 17 other countries will need to quarantine for 2 weeks starting Aug. 10.
The JPost also reported that the Health Ministry has opened the door to a possible lockdown this fall if hospitalizations and deaths increase.
"The Delta epidemic is extremely contagious, and is spreading all over the world," said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. "Avoid crowds, and get vaccinated – now. Otherwise, there will be no choice but to impose more severe restrictions, including a lockdown."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz added: "We need to prepare the public and public opinion for a lockdown in September, which is a month in which the economic damage will be less, and accelerate the immunization effort to try to prevent it."
Also on Tuesday, Gantz announced that an additional 1K reservists will be called back to support the ministry’s activities related to the pandemic. Soldiers are employed for several logistical activities. And an additional 500 medics are going to be recruited to assist the Health Ministry’s vaccination efforts.
Less than a week has passed since the Israeli government announced it would start administering booster shots to people over age 60. And now that at least two European nations have said they're preparing to dole out booster shots, it's only a matter of time before Big Pharma gets its way in the US, leading to more sales for Pfizer and Moderna at newly inflated prices.