The last few days in Israel have been reminiscent of the start of the Corona era early last year. It’s like déjà vu. Much of what is happening and what we are hearing now has happened and been heard before. We feel transported back to the uncertain days of March and April of 2020. Suddenly health experts are again debating the necessity of wearing masks, but only indoors, not outside, and the daily number of new infections is again being published everywhere. Evening television news broadcasts are again headlined by the nation’s top doctors.
And then yesterday I got the news that my hometown of Modiin has again become “yellow.” This means that masks must now be worn again in all local schools and other buildings or closed spaces. A festival planned for the weekend has also been canceled. And we had just gotten used to finally walking in the mall without a mask, to again freely breathing the air.
This is all due to the so-called “Delta” variant of the coronavirus, which is now mainly spreading among schoolchildren who then bring the virus home and infect their parents. It has been reported that a third of those newly infected with the virus had already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Here in Modiin alone, more than a thousand people have been quarantined. Those who do not adhere to the quarantine restrictions can expect a heavy fine of 5,000 shekels (~$1,500). However, it should be emphasized that almost none of the newly infected people got really sick, which we probably owe to the vaccine. And that is probably the reason why a lot of students between the ages of 12 and 18 have been vaccinated in the last few days.
Ben Gurion Airport is now the focus of daily reporting again after some testing mishaps resulted in several thousand returning travelers entering the country without first being properly tested for COVID.
Our new Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said a few days ago that Israelis must avoid traveling abroad if at all possible, and should leave unvaccinated children at home. The government is also considering a full ban on travel to “red” countries where the coronavirus is still not under control.
Tourists have to wait
And now some unpleasant news that may also affect many of you, dear readers. Vaccinated tourists were supposed to again be able to freely enter Israel from July 1. The opening of Israel’s borders to tourists has now been postponed to August 1. So you’ll have to wait a little longer to finally visit our country again. In the last few days I have received several messages from readers and friends who had already booked a plane ticket to Israel for the month of July.
We still don’t know enough about the coronavirus, we don’t yet know the effects of the virus on a largely vaccinated population. If the numbers of seriously ill patients do not suddenly skyrocket, which is not the case at the moment, we may still soon return to “normality.” We are all at the moment feeling confused and uncertain. Yesterday I did what I thought was no longer necessary and bought a fresh pack of masks. Just in case. A few more days of over 100 new daily infections and the government says it will reinstate the requirement to wear masks in all closed spaces. My previously optimism might have been a little premature.