JERUSALEM – Israel has been moving into a nationwide lockout for at least three weeks, starting on Friday, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, in the clearest sign yet of the government preventing the spread of coronovirus .
The announcement on Sunday came barely four months after Israel emerged from its last lockdown – too hastily, many critics said – and the rate of per capita infection was among the highest in the world. More than 1,100 people in the country have died of the virus.
The public sector and some private businesses will continue to operate under tight boundaries, and citizens will only be allowed to move within 500 yards of their homes. The schools, which reopened on September 1 for the new school year, will also close on Friday for the duration of the lockdown.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the drastic and unpopular measures in a television address on Sunday, before a ceremony at the White House that began formal Israeli diplomatic and trade relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington, DC Flew for
After initially winning international acclaim for taking swift action to control the first wave of the virus, the government’s reaction to the second wave appeared all the more surprising. Israel is one of the first countries to implement a second, nationwide lockout.
Mr Netanyahu tried to put a positive spin on the turnabout and said that many countries are experiencing a similar “compromise” effect according to the changing rate of infection.
“Netanyahu said,” We were among the first people in the world to understand the scope of danger. “We closed the skies and implemented lockout.”
He said, “Because we were among the first people to shut down the economy, we may be among the first to reopen it.” “Because we were among the first to reopen the economy, our economy is in a better position than most economies around the world.”
But Israel’s health officials had “raised the red flag”, he said, warning of a jump in the number of serious cases and deaths, hospital teams worsening and a double threat of the virus and influenza that winter would bring.
The lockdown verdict came after hours of heated debate in the government, with ministers blaming each other for the situation and pushing for last-minute policy changes – a hallmark of dealing with the crisis in recent months. No decision has been taken as to whether the airport will remain open for international travel.
Earlier on Sunday, an ultra-conservative member of Mr Netanyahu’s cabinet resigned from the government over the growing lockdown. Yakov Litzman, Minister of Housing and Construction, was furious that the ban would coincide with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the annual day of fasting and atonement, and that worshipers would only be allowed into the Synod. He said the government delayed acting out of fear of spoiling the Israelis’ summer vacation plans.
The country’s virus Caesar Dr. Ronnie Gamzu argued that the lockout on Jewish holidays would reduce economic losses and prevent large family gatherings where the virus could spread.
“Believe it, it’s less of evils,” Dr. Gamzu told the house quarantine on Sunday, after he was in contact with a confirmed case. Their earlier efforts to impose less comprehensive sanctions were delayed and the demands of political and religious groups were watered until they became ineffective.
Experts said that the government had reduced the chances of compliance with the lockout in view of erosion of public confidence in the officials.