Israel’s Knesset on Tuesday passed a new law effectively ending the “state of emergency” that has been in place since early in the coronavirus crisis.
Under the new law, which is valid until the end of 2022, the government can only impose new COVID-related restrictions on the public with the approval of the Knesset.
If the government now wants to impose more serious restrictions, it must first declare a new state of emergency, pending approval by lawmakers. For less severe measures, it can declare a “special health situation,” which will also still ultimately require Knesset approval.
In short, there will be much more legislative oversight to how the government reacts to changes in the ongoing Corona crisis.
Under the previous legislation, the cabinet was effectively able to impose restrictions on the public with little or no recourse from the rest of the Knesset or other public bodies.
This change comes despite skyrocketing infection rates in Israel. Over 80,000 new daily infections have been recorded for the past several days.
More concerning is that the number of Israelis listed as seriously ill due to COVID-19 has risen nearly to 900.
At the peak of the previous wave of infections, Israel has 1,200 serious cases of coronavirus, a number that strained Israeli hospitals to their limit. Experts believe the current Omicron-fueled wave will result in an even higher number of seriously ill patients.