Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Motzaei Shabbat, 17 October 2020):
"Good evening, citizens of Israel. We have seen two waves of the coronavirus hitting the world. The first wave, you will recall, was not as strong. We were almost the first to close our borders and enter a lockdown, and we were among the first to exit from it. The entire world followed us. Now, the second wave is much more massive. It is powerful. It is hitting the entire world. You also see what is happening in Europe and in countries beyond Europe. The World Health Organization has determined that this is a powerful wave. There were more people infected yesterday than on any other day since the outbreak of the disease. Once again, with this wave, we entered before everyone. I have already told you that when we start to exit, other countries will be entering, and I regret that this is what you are seeing. In Britain, the number of new cases per capita is double ours, in the Netherlands it is three times, and this is what is happening in many other countries.
And indeed, the decision to impose a lockdown was correct. I am pleased that I insisted on it this time as well; this lockdown is working. We had 8,000 new cases and we were on the way to 10,000 and more per day. Now we are under 1,500. We had 15% positive among those being tested; today it is 4.5%.
I want to thank you, citizens of Israel, for your cooperation because this would not be happening without you. In the end, each and every one of you is what is decisive. But I say one thing, this time we are moving cautiously. We are exiting according to an outline that has been determined by health experts and the Health Ministry. There is an outline and we have gone according to it on every point, in regard to the Charedi public and the red cities as well, exactly what has been determined. I have not agreed to any change or any concession and I hope that this outline is indeed the right one. We have gone to the first goal, to the first stage.
I will convene the Corona Cabinet tomorrow or the day after and we will decide on the future. However, it is important to follow the rules. If we all follow the rules, then I am certain that this will work. Another thing, I have said that if it appears that it is not working, if it appears that we are going backwards, then we will have no choice but to retighten the restrictions.
I want to say something about the red cities. I said that we accepted the recommendation of the team of experts and the Health Ministry. However, I would like to clarify, first of all, I ask the Charedi public to follow these rules. Our Torah sanctifies life. We have a Torah of life and we need to safeguard life and health. And by the way, health comes before the economy. We will maintain the cordon around the red cities. I want to see the red cities become green cities. I do not want to see the morbidity in the red cities trickling into the rest of the population. I very much hope that we will also overcome the economic cost. There is an economic cost, I know this, and we have significantly reduced it because we acted and we imposed the lockdown over the holidays. We also reduced it because we gave loans and grants to the self-employed, to the employed, to the unemployed and to those on unpaid leave. We will do all that is necessary.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize, I think that there is a reason for optimism today. I have told you that I already see the leading companies advancing toward a vaccine. You have heard about Pfizer. There is now a reason for optimism, even optimism that is slightly less cautious. We are working to obtain these vaccines for the State of Israel. We see the end but we need to reach it and do so united. So I ask you to follow the rules, wear masks and maintain distance. We will proceed together and we will overcome the coronavirus."