In Shifts, by Age or by Location: Israel’s Proposed Coronavirus Exit Strategies

Israel’s coronavirus lockdown could start being eased on April 19, immediately after the Passover holiday ends, under a proposal submitted to the National Security Council on Wednesday by the Intelligence Affairs Ministry.

The document, which was obtained by Haaretz, sets out several ways in which Israel could gradually relax the restrictions, based on estimated behavior of the epidemic that would see the infection rate decline and the country returning to normal by summer, before a second wave of the outbreak in the fall.

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The first method advocates for a simple rollback of the lockdown, with the most recent measures eased first, and further restrictions being lifted every two weeks.

The second, developed by researchers from Bar-Ilan University, would divide Israel’s population into two “shifts.” Each would be released from lockdown on alternate weeks, thereby reducing the risk for asymptomatic carriers to infect others. “A person infected during his active week would enter a weeklong lockdown, at the end of which he would either be ‘discovered’ or resume activity again, apparently healthy,” the paper explains.

All family members would have to be in the same shift, and anyone showing symptoms would still be quarantined. This system could tolerate a 10 to 20 percent level of disobedience from the public, the researchers said.

A third model, proposed by Prof. Uri Alon of the Weizmann Institute of Science, would have the entire economy cycle in and out of lockdown, with four days of work for every 10 days of lockdown. It would require almost complete obedience by the public, and “the total time for dealing with the pandemic would be extended significantly,” the document said. The cyclical nature of that method would “reduce the time in which a carrier could infect others to just two-sevenths” of any given period, thereby sharply decreasing the rate of infection and eventually leading “to the virus disappearing.”