Health Ministry: Indoor mask mandate to be reinstated today at 12:00 pm

1. Children below age 7

2. Someone who cannot wear a mask due to a disability

3. Someone who is alone

4. Two workers who permanently work in the same room.

In addition, the Health Ministry recommended to wear a mask at large gathering held outdoors.

The Ministry also recommends that people who are at-risk or are not vaccinated refrain from attending gatherings of any sort.

There were 227 new coronavirus cases in Israel on Thursday, the Health Ministry announced Friday morning, with an additional 35 cases confirmed since midnight. Some 41,331 tests were conducted on Thursday with 0.6% of them returning a positive result, marking an increase from the 0.3-0.2% positive tests from previous days. While the figures mark a significant increase compared to previous weeks, when the number of new daily cases ranged between a few a day to 50, they are still only a tiny fraction of the thousands of new patients identified every day at the peak of the pandemic in January and February.

The number of serious patients also remains very low: 26 people were in serious conditions as of Friday, compared to over 1,200 in the winter.

The number of deaths in June has also been limited: ten people succumbed to the virus since the beginning of the month, less than half than those who died in May. At the peak of the pandemic, dozens of victims were registered in a single day.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he is treating the spread of the Delta variant as a new outbreak.

“The Delta variant, sometimes called the Indian variant, is currently spreading rapidly around the world with a much higher infection rate than we were familiar with,” he said. “Unfortunately, we are seeing the beginning of a virus spread within the State of Israel, and we do not always know how to locate its source.”

The new outbreak was first discovered last week in several schools in Binyamina and Modi’in. In light of the number of infected people, Binyamina was classified on Thursday as red according to the ministry’s traffic light system.

Thursday also marked the fourth day in a row that the country registered over 100 new daily cases and the new outbreaks spread to several more municipalities, including Kfar Saba, Ramle and Herzliya. The number of new virus carriers registered on Thursday were the highest since April.

The outbreaks were mostly caused by breaches of quarantine by people returning from abroad.

The annual Tel Aviv gay pride parade is scheduled to begin today at 12:00, with thousands expected to attend. In its announcement, the Health Ministry explicitly mentioned pride events as an example of a large outdoor gathering where masks should be worn.

“We are taking the necessary precautionary steps, carefully without hysteria,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz tweeted. “In view of the increase in morbidity rates, the obligation to wear masks in closed spaces will return today. I ask the participants at the Pride events and I ask everyone: celebrate, have fun, but follow the instructions – so that we protect our daily life as much as possible. Shabbat Shalom, Happy Pride. Health above all.”

In the meantime, the vaccination campaign is slowly regaining speed. On Thursday, over 11,000 shots were administered for the first time in two months. Of those, almost 8,000 were first doses given to children aged 12-15. On Wednesday they were about, confirming an increase from previous weeks when the number stood at about 2,000 or less inoculated teens every day.

The government has indicated that inoculation of the age group 12-15 is one of the priorities to contain the new outbreak.

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