Opinion: A prolonged blanket closure on the nation’s economic and civil life may help keep the weaker members of society safe, but the cure may prove more harmful than the disease; we must find a way to protect those who need it and save the state from ruin

A deserted Tel Aviv street amid the coronavirus crisis
A deserted Tel Aviv street amid the coronavirus crisis

The world order changes in times of a pandemic and in times of war, for both claim countless casualties.

In times of pandemic, much like in times of war – we mustn’t hesitate to make the right decisions.

About a year ago, I watched a movie about a large herd of African buffalo hit by a deadly disease. Many of the herd’s elders and weak died as a result; the rest also became infected but quickly recovered and developed a natural immunity to the disease.

The epidemic eventually ended, and the herd persevered, stronger than ever.

I am not suggesting, God forbid, that we abandon our elders to their fate. Unlike other animals, we have the option of isolating our elders, significantly reducing their chances of contracting the virus and dying as a result.

At the same time, however, we must let the rest of the population to resume everyday life or we will not recover from this crisis for many years to come.

A prolonged closure may plague the healthier members of the herd with a much deadlier epidemic – a financial collapse and a high unemployment rate.

The ongoing stranglehold on the economy and civilian life will help mitigate the spread of the virus in the long run but will also land a devastating blow to the Israeli economy and society.

צוותי מד"א בבני ברק
Medical teams in protective gear in Bnei Brak (Photo: Moti Kimchi)


Without a viable economy, there would be no jobs, no healthcare, no joie de vivre, no life at all.

As a result of the closure, about one million salaried employees and half a million self-employed Israelis, as well as countless small-medium business owners and their families – a total of about 4 million people – are experiencing severe financial distress.

In order to prevent such a catastrophe, we must immediately make two crucial decisions. First, the state must reach out to small-medium business owners and provide them genuine assistance in such difficult times.

This should include the immediate reimbursement of all payments to the Tax Authority in January and February, as well as an immediate 10% grant for business with annual turnover of more than NIS 1 million.

Furthermore, and more importantly, we must fully kickstart the economy and education system for all civilians under 65 years of age.

This group will continue receiving specific directives from the Ministry of Health, especially those with chronic conditions.

אכיפה של שוטרים את הנחיות משרד הבריאות בתל אביב
Police and soldiers stop a man breaking lockdown directives in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv (Photo: TPS)


As for the rest of us, we must keep adhering to the social distancing measures as religiously as ever while providing the populace with medical, social and mental support both at home and in the community.

We must also keep nursing homes under constant monitoring to detect any potential carriers of coronavirus.

Of course, such a prolonged period of isolation may pose various risks for the confined population and their loved ones, but this is the right course of action.

All these decisions require us to make a strategic change of approach, one that stems from brave national leadership.

No decision-maker, at any level, should look in the eyes of a particularly beloved elder or a specific population and exclude them from these orders.

We must make a decision and stick to it, impose closures where necessary and eliminate all travel restrictions on the rest of the population. Only then will the Israeli economy and society come back to life. This is the true essence of leadership these days.

As reported by Ynetnews