Photo: Flash90

Israel to reopen Eilat, Dead Sea hotels

Hotels in the Israeli Red Sea resort city of Eilat and the Dead Sea are set to reopen next week, as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, following passage of a special bill by the Knesset.

The tourism industry has been hard hit economically during two nationwide lockdowns in Israel.

Eilat and the Dead Sea are viewed by lawmakers as remote, “island locations,” deemed safe for the resumption of operations for the first time in two months.

Meanwhile, Israel is in talks with drugmaker Pfizer Inc over its potential COVID-19 vaccine, although no deals have yet been signed. The mega-pharmaceutical company announced on Monday that its experimental vaccine is more than 90% effective, marking a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the global economy and upended daily life.

“I am constantly working to bring vaccines to Israel and today I have important news,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who revealed that he personally held “a very warm and heartfelt conversation with Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla,” and that “I am convinced that we will complete the contract with Pfizer.”

Netanyahu added, “It seems that Albert Bourla is very proud of his Greek and Jewish heritage from Thessaloniki and he told me that he holds the development of relations between Greece and Israel, which I have been leading in recent years, in high regard.”

Israel already has an agreement with Moderna Inc for the future purchase of its potential vaccine, and has been in talks with other companies as well. It has also started human trials of its own BriLife candidate.