Prime Minister Naftali Bennett might be regretting just a little bit his initial public reaction to the Omicron variant’s arrival in Israel. On Thursday Bennett told his cabinet that “my wife is going to kill me” over its failure to ease travel restrictions.
When the first cases of Omicron were confirmed late last month, Bennett pushed for Israel to immediately close its borders to non-citizens and publicly urged Israelis to refrain from traveling abroad.
Less than a week later, it was made known that Bennett’s own wife, Gilat, was refusing to cancel a family vacation abroad, despite her husband’s reported protests.
Amid heavy criticism, Bennett stressed that new information coming out of the World Health Organization suggested Omicron wasn’t as dangerous as originally believed, but he still wasn’t happy about the optics of his wife and children jetting away to foreign lands as a potential new coronavirus wave loomed.
No doubt the prime minister was hoping that Thursday’s cabinet meeting would help him save face by approving a proposal to ease travel restrictions, especially for vaccinated citizens. But a majority of his ministers seem to have taken Bennett’s initial panicked reaction to heart and voted against the proposal. Gilat and her children will have to enter quarantine when they return from holiday.
The Omicron variant remains a cause for concern due to its high number of mutations. However, early research suggests that the existing vaccines do still help to prevent serious illness, and that the overall deadliness of the variant is no greater than those that came before.