Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, has emphasized the importance of vaccine uptake and reintroducing Covid curbs to prevent a complete, nationwide lockdown and stop coronavirus cases from overwhelming the healthcare system.

Speaking on a tour of a new vaccination center in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Israeli PM defended the recent move to reintroduce some coronavirus measures, stating that “to refrain from harsher restrictions, we’ll get vaccinated, wear masks, and maintain social distancing.”

Bennett also added that the government’s “goal is to keep Israel open but not reach a situation where hospitals will say ‘we’re full.’”

On Tuesday, Israel approved new coronavirus restrictions that will enter into effect from August 8. The measures include halving office capacity for public servants, as well as encouraging working from home. The government has also decided to extend the use of the Green Pass system to August 20, which requires people to show proof that they have either been vaccinated against Covid, have recently recovered from the virus, or have tested negative, in order to attend events containing over 100 people.

The move comes as Israel observes an uptick in coronavirus cases, with the state recording over 3,000 new cases on both Monday and Tuesday.

According to a local news outlet, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked believes that “the only way” for Israel to swerve its fourth national lockdown would be to vaccinate a million citizens in a week.

Israel launched a scheme to offer booster doses to its over-60s last week amid fears that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine decreases over time, likely due to the highly contagious Delta variant proving harder for the body to combat.

Almost 60% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while over 62% of the population have received at least one dose. Since Israel rolled out its booster dose scheme, 182,444 third shots have been administered.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!