• Home
  • keyboard_arrow_right Israel News
  • keyboard_arrow_right 30 times more COVID fines lately, but enforcement still face many hurdles

Israel News

30 times more COVID fines lately, but enforcement still face many hurdles

CM 26/08/2021

share close
When the signs of a new coronavirus outbreak started to appear in June just as the new government was sworn in, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed that one of the core elements of his strategy to fight the virus would be to step up enforcement, rather than rushing to enact new restrictions without bothering to check compliance.
By mid-July, the Public Security Ministry was tasked with overseeing the effort, including coordinating with the relevant entities assigned to carry out controls, primarily the police.
A little over a month later, the ministry’s Director-General, Tomer Lotan, who previously served as the executive director at the National Coronavirus Task Force, told The Jerusalem Post that progress has been made, but admitted that much work remains.

“Our action has been characterized by three different layers: taking general responsibility for enforcement, increase the number of fines, especially against those who do not wear masks, and our plan to increase monitoring of people in quarantine,” Lotan noted.
Before the ministry stepped in, no other department had been in charge of enforcing coronavirus regulations since the pandemic began.
“When I was working in the Coronavirus Task Force, we tried to step up enforcement and to work with the police but it was very sporadic and the reason was that there was no minister or official responsible for it,” Lotan said.
“The new government decided to designate a very clear address to tackle the issue and integrate its different elements.”
IN THE past month, the ministry has been working closely with the police to increase resources and focus on monitoring at least the main elements of the corona regulations – also because, as Lotan put it, “in spite of the high level of the disease in the country, it is taking a lot of time to convince Israelis that this is serious.”
The first tangible results of the efforts are already visible. In July, fewer than 1,000 fines were issued to people for not wearing a mask; in August that number had shot up to 30,000.
According to Lotan, some 2,500 are currently handed out every day, the highest average in the past 18 months.
“We are also trying to target the specific locations that the Health Ministry considers the most dangerous, [such as] public transportation, malls, supermarkets, shows and the like,” he said.
The number of officers – from the police or local authorities – devoted to the monitor public compliance with corona rules has also grown from a few hundred to over 1,000. Many were transferred to the task from other police duties.
Lotan said that over the past few weeks, the focus on which measures to enforce has shifted.
“Six, seven weeks ago, the main effort was devoted to monitoring people in isolation, which is a very difficult task,” he remarked. “We increased the numbers significantly, from a few hundred home visits every day to 7,000-8,000. However, the measures to enforce have also dramatically increased – the green pass, the purple ribbon, etc. – and also the number of individuals in quarantine has spiked from 15,000-20,000 to over 100,000. Since then, we have been working with the cabinet to identify on which areas to focus the enforcement to maximize impact on public trends.”
For this reason, the authorities decided to focus on mask-wearing, to make the public domain safer and to let the public see enforcement in action.
Tomer Lotan. (credit: Courtesy)Tomer Lotan. (credit: Courtesy)
According to Lotan, monitoring compliance with the Green Pass requirement has not been a major problem because in most cases businesses themselves enforce it.
“This is not the case for all places, but most places such as theaters, studios, cinemas, big restaurants do it,” he said. “When we sent the police to check we found a high level of compliance. The main problem is at small restaurants and cafés and some venues in the Arab sector and others.”
ASKED ABOUT synagogues – that are required to work under the green pass system if they have more than 50 people indoors or 100 outdoors, Lotan said that the fact that only the biggest ones have to use the green pass makes enforcement more complicated.
“Enforcement in synagogues is very low, it has always been low and it is very challenging,” he acknowledged.
Regarding quarantine compliance, while the number of fines has increased from around 20 to 60-70 per day in the past month, the ministry’s goal is to reorganize the system to incorporate technological tools that could allow a dramatic rise in controls.
“Our plan is comprised of three levels,” Lotan noted.
The first element is personal visits by police officers. However, the high number of individuals in isolation makes it hard to carry this out at a sufficient level and for this reason, the authorities have been trying to incorporate technology.
A few weeks ago, a trial of the “Eskemon” system was launched. It allows officers to send a text message with a link to the phone of an individual in quarantine. By clicking on the link, the person allows them access to their GPS system so that their location can be checked. If it does not match the right address, an inspector is sent.
“The problem is that the legislation allowing us to use the system is quite old,” Lotan said. “In order to employ it, we have to ask people to sign a form, which we can do only with some people who arrive at the airport.”
IN ORDER to be able to take full advantage of the system, the ministry is working on new legislation, but the Knesset is currently in recess. The hope is that the plenum will convene in an extraordinary session soon to pass it into law. A budget debate is scheduled for September 2 and Lotan said it was hoped that the bill can be passed on that day.
New legislation is also required for another tool the ministry is hoping to use: video calls to people in isolation, which would allow not only checking of their location but also to gain more direct contact with the person and identify them.
Recently, Public Health Services head Prof. Sharon Alroy-Preis said that they see that only a fraction of those who must isolate taking a second test to shorten quarantine after seven days instead of 14, indicating that those people likely do not comply with the initial requirement.
Asked whether the Public Security Ministry plans to use this kind of information to step up enforcement, for example, by checking those who do not take the test after the seventh day, Lotan said that it isn’t.
“It might help us from the statistical point of view to understand more about general compliance but we will not use it at the individual level,” he remarked.
There is also no intention to introduce the so-called “electronic bracelets” at least at this stage.
When the airport was closed and all returnees from abroad were forced to enter isolation in a hotel last spring, a pilot program using the device was introduced to give inbound travelers the alternative to quarantine at home.
Lotan said, however, that the tool is now considered both too invasive and impractical.
“It could work well for up to a few thousand people, but not with many thousands, also considering that the kit is non-disposable and must be collected after use.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

Rate it


The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

list Archive

Previous post

Post comments

This post currently has no comments.

Leave a reply