Coronavirus: Israel to implement three-week national lockdown


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  • Coronavirus epidemic

Image copyrightEPA

image CaptionIsrael – with a population of nine million – is seeing some 4,000 new cases a day

Israel is about to implement a new national lockout – becoming the first country in the world to take such measures to stop the spread of coronovirus.

It will begin on Friday and the last three weeks, including the Jewish New Year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measure would “put a heavy price on all of us”, but the country faced 4,000 new daily transitions.

A minister has resigned to protest against restrictions with important Jewish festivals.

Housing Minister Yakov Litzman, who led an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party, said the measures would prevent Jewish people from celebrating their religious festivals, including Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, on 27 September.

He also threatened to pull his party out of the governing coalition.

According to a global tally maintained by the American University Johns Hopkins, the country has seen 1,108 deaths and more than 153,000 confirmed infections from Kovid-19.

What are the new restrictions?

Israel, with a population of about nine million, has reported more than 3,000 new cases a day in recent weeks.

Media captionKovid-19 patients volunteer recovered in Israel pilot

In a television address on Sunday, the Prime Minister said that it has increased to 4,000 daily.

The measures he announced would apply most widely in Israel since the first lockdown, which lasted from late March to early May, and included:

  • No more than 10 people can be found indoors while groups of 20 are allowed outside
  • Schools and shopping centers will be closed, and Israel will have to live within 500 meters of their homes, with the exception of travel to workplaces
  • Non-government offices and businesses may remain open but customers should not be accepted
  • However, supermarkets and pharmacies may be open to the public.

Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged the dissolution that Jewish communities would celebrate religious holidays due to the lockout that usually brings families together.

He said, “This is not the kind of holiday we are used to. And we certainly won’t be celebrating with our extended families.”

The ban on indoor gatherings will have a serious impact on prayers in the synagogue.

The second lockdown will cost the economy, which is in recession due to the epidemic, an estimated 6.5bn shekels ($ 1.88bn), the Finance Ministry says.

What did Yakov Litzman say?

Mr Litzman said in his resignation letter on Friday: “It misbehaves with hundreds of citizens.

“Where have you been until now? Why did Jewish holidays become a convenient address for dealing with coronovirus?”

Image copyrightGetty Images
image CaptionYakov Litzman said the lockdown would prevent orthodox Jews from being able to celebrate religious festivals

Interior Minister Aryeh Derry – who heads another ultra-orthodox party – said in a video posted on Twitter that he supported the planned sanctions, and that not abiding by them would be dictatorship for the killing.

Addressing the cabinet convened to cast a vote in the lockdown on Sunday, Netanyahu said he regrets Litzman’s resignation.

He said: “We must move forward to make the necessary decisions for Israel in the coronovirus era, and this is what we will do in this session.”

Media captionCoronavirus: Israel’s ultra-conservative lockdown challenge

Mr Netanyahu has faced criticism for dealing with the outbreak. Critics say that their failure to deal effectively with the virus led to another national lockout.

Many nations are experiencing a second surge of the virus. However, most governments are now placing small local locks in the affected areas instead of blanket national ones.

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