Politics

Vaccination world champion Israel threatens fifth lockdown

Increasing numbers of infections make Wahl a tightrope walk in two weeks.

“It’s unbelievable how I was looking forward to my work”, Elran says in the popular Hamburger Grill Moses in Tel Aviv, “I hope the lockdown is really over this time”. In the past few weeks, Moses, like other restaurants, has been offering catering and to-go, which is not considered a full replacement in Israel. The proof: a reservation app alone received 85,000 online inquiries on Sunday. But caution still applies: despite winter temperatures, 60 percent wanted a place in the pub, only 40 percent wanted to go inside. But that could soon be over.

Because although more than five million Israelis have already been vaccinated at least once, after the lockdown relaxations three weeks ago, the reproductive rate (how many other people infected by an infected person) rose from 0.76 to 1. In the middle of the week there will be another jump upwards expected. Then the infections from the carnival celebrations for the Purim festival show up. And the elections are on March 23, followed by Easter and Passover, and April is followed by the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan – a nightmare calendar for epidemiologists.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is nevertheless optimistic: “We are rushing towards the herd immunity.” But that is probably due to the election campaign, Netanyahu’s chief corona advisor Prof. Ran Blitzer is much more skeptical and on the brakes: “We’re running the exit too fast.

It should be slower in severely affected regions than in the less affected. ”What Blitzer would prefer to see differently, especially in schools:“ There should be far more test options available for pupils and teachers. ”Marina Pollak lives in the south and is a math teacher:“ I am Vaccinated twice, but now I have a scratchy cough. I could have caught Corona. Which doesn’t bother me after the vaccination, but am I spreading the virus? “

Ankle cuffs for travelers

The uncertainty is similar at the airport. The number of people entering is currently limited to 1,000. Soon it should be 3,000. Those who enter no longer have to go to the quarantine hotels. But the alternative shackles are legally questionable. In addition, their number is nowhere near enough. Monitoring apps are also available but are unreliable. Blitzer: “Ultimately, everything depends on self-discipline. Without them, the numbers will soon rise again. “

The police feel cornered by politics. All preventive measures only work if compliance is checked. “But we’re not bouncers,” says Amichai Esched, Tel Aviv police chief. Every new relaxation regulation is followed by problems: instead of roadblocks in lockdown now raids in cafes? Without a vaccination certificate, nobody is allowed to go to the tables inside, but who checks that at the entrance? “Nobody checked us,” reports Ras, who is sitting at the table in his regular café “Jaffa” for the first time in months. The police have no desire to disturb the new zest for life.

So within Israel the problems in this “third easing phase” have not been fully resolved. Outside of Israel, however, many look jealously at the small country. For example, the number of heads of government investigating Israel’s vaccination campaign up close is increasing. Last week it was Sebastian Kurz and Mette Frederiksen from Denmark. Now Viktor Orbán from Hungary and Andrej Babis from the Czech Republic follow. Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo is on the list next week.

Very fitting images for Netanyahu’s election campaign. But what does vaccination diplomacy bring to the ballot box? The voter reluctance is unpredictable. Almost all experts foresee an imminent fifth ballot within two years as the result of this fourth election. And the fifth lockdown seems only a matter of time.

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