Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced major new restrictions on the unvaccinated as the country battles the COVID-19 Delta variant. . .
. . . and he did not pull any punches.
“Dear citizens, those who refuse vaccines are endangering their health, those around them and the freedom of every Israeli citizen. They are endangering our freedom to work, the freedom of our children to learn and the freedom to hold celebrations with the family”:
“I respect different views but there is a time and a place in which this discussion needs to stop – and it is our very lives. The science is unequivocal: The vaccines work”:
And they will start making those who refuse to get vaccinated to pay the full cost of their COVID-19 tests.
“Those who refuse vaccines will not be able to go to the cinema, the theater, synagogue, amusement park, soccer game or any activity with over 100 people … unless they bring negative results from a coronavirus test, at their expense. Yes, they will fully bear the costs”:
“I appeal to everyone who knows someone who refuses to get vaccinated: Persuade them. Explain to them that they will not hurt others. Persuade and explain – do not give up”:
“Good evening. I have chosen to speak with you this evening because we are at a decisive moment that will determine how our country will look in the coming period. It is in our hands to choose whether to act responsibly and have an open and free country, or to stick our head in the sand and – Heaven forbid – bring about endless lockdowns, again.
Our goal is clear: To safeguard health and daily routine, to maintain the Israeli economy, properly open the school year and safeguard public health. It is possible.
The first waves of the coronavirus cost us 6,430 dead, approximately 200 days of lockdown, the loss of a school year and severe economic harm.
The world is currently in the eye of the storm of the Delta pandemic and the entire world is turning red. Even the Olympics, for the first time in history, are being held without spectators.
The easiest thing for me would be to close down the country; however, our compass is different at the moment: We want to have an open and safe country. We are conducting this campaign responsibly, with consideration and on the basis of facts and data.
First, what is the difference between the coronavirus pandemic and the Delta pandemic? Delta patients carry, in their bodies, 1,000 times the viral load and Delta multiplies and spreads much quicker than the original coronavirus.
If it was possible to block the original coronavirus with vaccines alone, in the Delta wave, the government has built a plan with three layers of protection: The vaccines layer, the layer of protecting the older population and the layer of masks.
First, the vaccines layer.
Our challenge is clear: That all Israelis who can get vaccinated – will go to get vaccinated. Every citizen aged 12 and older who has no health impediment to getting vaccinated –
Go get vaccinated.
Go get vaccinated.
I want to insist on one point: There are many countries in which there are not enough vaccines for the population and the public is crying out. Here, the Government of Israel has invested billions so that vaccines will be available everywhere in the country.
And yet there are still one million Israelis who simply refuse to get vaccinated. Even for young people over age 12, we have seen to a continuity of the necessary stocks of vaccines; however, there are still over 600,000 young people up to age 30 who have yet to get vaccinated.
I respect different views but there is a time and a place in which this discussion needs to stop – and it is our very lives.
The science is unequivocal: The vaccines work. They are effective and safe, almost completely for young people. For the older population, they are effective but not enough. Over one billion people around the world have already been vaccinated.
Dear citizens, those who refuse vaccines are endangering their health, those around them and the freedom of every Israeli citizen. They are endangering our freedom to work, the freedom of our children to learn and the freedom to hold celebrations with the family.
Those who refuse vaccines hurt us all because if all of us were vaccinated, we would all be able to maintain daily life. But if one million Israelis continue to not get vaccinated, this will oblige the eight million others to shut themselves in their homes.
Therefore, the [Corona] Cabinet decided today that as of 8 August, those who refuse vaccines will not be able to go to the cinema, the theater, the synagogue, the amusement park, the soccer game or any activity with over 100 people, indoors or out, unless they bring negative results from a coronavirus test, at their expense. Yes, they will fully bear the costs of the test.
There is no reason why the taxpayers and people who have carried out their civic duty and have been vaccinated should finance tests for those who refuse to get vaccinated.
Regarding flights, people who have been vaccinated will be able to fly to the clean countries and return; after they receive negative test results in Israel, they will be exempt from quarantine.
But on the other hand, those who refuse to get vaccinated will enter quarantine for a week, no matter what country they will have returned from. These actions will help us block the morbidity. From here, I appeal to everyone who knows someone who refuses to get vaccinated: Persuade them. Explain to them that they will not hurt others. Persuade and explain – do not give up.
The second layer is protecting the elderly and the vulnerable in Israel.
The State of Israel is currently providing the strongest protection in the world to approximately 120,000 elderly in geriatric hospitals and retirement homes. Every Israeli citizen should be proud of this exemplary action that is upholding Psalm 79:1, ‘Do not cast me off in time of old age’.
Regarding the remaining elderly, who can look after themselves, they are responsible for being doubly cautious in watching themselves. Meet with the grandchildren, but outside in the open air, with masks. Just as you remember, we all look after grandmother and grandfather.
The third layer, the layer of masks, depends only on you, on us. Masks have been proven scientifically effective especially in protecting yourselves and those around you.
When two people wear masks, with all of the viral load that we mentioned, the likelihood goes down by 98%.
Therefore, every citizen must wear a mask in closed spaces. This is not a recommendation, this is a legal requirement.
My friends, in conclusion, if we get vaccinated, mind the older population and wear masks, we will overcome the Delta strain.
The coming year will be one of an economic jump forward, a year of rebuilding and of exiting the crisis. It will simply be a good year.
Thank you very much.”