Bennett: Keeping quarantine policies would have created a de facto lockdown

Presenting new quarantine rules, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tells reporters that not doing so would have put the country in a “de facto lockdown.”

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated people exposed to any variant of the coronavirus will only need to quarantine until they get negative results from a PCR test. Unvaccinated individuals will need to quarantine for 7 days with tests on the first and last days. Under the old system, anyone exposed to Omicron would need to quarantine for at least 7 days regardless of vaccination status.

“We saw what was happening abroad and understood that if we stuck to what we were doing with regards to quarantine policy… we would have been in a de facto lockdown of 1 to 2 million people,” he says.

He claims that the country’s controversial move to curtail travel, keeping Israelis in the country and foreign nationals from being able to visit, bought five weeks of breathing room before the expected onslaught of the Omicron variant and will allow the economy to keep humming.

“This gave us an advantage over other countries, which are fighting Omicron and Delta at the same time. The alternative was to act like Holland, with a full lockdown,” he says.

Despite the fact that Bennett literally wrote a book titled “How to beat a pandemic,” sources close to the premier note that there’s “no guidebook” on dealing with the pandemic, defending his handling of the crisis.

They say he would rather absorb criticism for being too aggressive in fighting the pandemic than risk public health.

“Our goal is to leave the economy open and market open and stores open as much as possible, while avoiding stretching hospitals beyond capacity. If we wanted, we could have locked down, but nobody wants to get to a de facto lockdown by calling it another name,” he says.

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