A new bill submitted by coalition and opposition MKs on Wednesday, September 9, would require the state to offer disposable masks free of charge to all citizens and residents for as long as Ministry of Health regulations demand that they be worn. Twenty-seven lawmakers presented the bill, initiated by Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List).
Seeing as MKs from seven factions have sponsored and endorsed the bill, it has a good chance of being voted into law. Israel’s number of coronavirus patients in critical condition reached 478 on Thursday, the highest since pandemic began. More than 3,500 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 for a number of consecutive days during the past week, reinforcing Israel’s unenviable lead among the countries of the world as the place with the highest number of daily increases in positive cases per million residents.
The bill would require the government to distribute the masks to the public at centers throughout the country. The legislation states that there is a consensus around the world that wearing masks helps prevent the spread of coronavirus, so the government must take responsibility and ensure that all citizens have access to masks.
On Friday, September 4, Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists in Arab localities around Israel started an information campaign on the dangers of COVID-19, going street-by-street, from home to home. “We’re hurtling towards a general lockdown,” said MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, placing the blame on the far-right government for failing to control the crisis. “We’re approaching a general quarantine due to the irresponsibility of the ministers. We’ll get out of it thanks to the responsibility that everyone will show towards their families and the public.” According to MK Touma-Sliman, “We proposed a formal plan for curbing large gatherings in the Arab society – and nothing was done. There is no dialogue, no plan, and Netanyahu is looking for excuses.”