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Israel: Coronavirus lockdown to begin at 2:00 p.m.

The lockdown on the State of Israel “meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus” will begin on Friday at 2:00 p.m.

During the lockdown, 7,000 police officers and soldiers will be deployed across the country to enforce the the restrictions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference Thursday night, following emergency consultations with senior health officials in a teleconference, regarding the possibility of imposing stricter restrictions during the upcoming lockdown.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, Coronavirus Czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu, and Health Ministry Director-General Hezy Levy took part in the consultations.

“We are about to enter the second lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic broke out across the globe,” said Netanyahu.

“This lockdown is important, this lockdown is necessary, and in this lockdown we will all stand together.”

Source: Arutz Sheva

Notes:

Government officials loosened restrictions on movement during the new nationwide coronavirus lockdown, saying on Thursday night that people will be allowed to travel up to 1 kilometer from their homes, instead of 500 meters, after the closure begins on Friday afternoon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cabinet ministers made the decision following a request from the Knesset’s Constitution, Justice and Law Committee, which needed to approve the regulations.

The Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry announced the change in a joint statement shortly before midnight.

There is a long list of exceptions to the movement rule, including for people going to work, buying essentials, and aiding the elderly or those in need.

The lockdown is set to begin on Friday at 2 p.m. and continue for at least three weeks. Israel now has one of the highest daily infection rates per capita in the world.

The government also released an updated list of “red” areas with high infection rates late Thursday night. The list includes 88 localities, including Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Lod, Netanya, Safed, Petah Tikva, Rishon Lezion and parts of Jerusalem.

Red areas are subject to tighter restrictions, including on prayer gatherings during the upcoming holidays.

Netanyahu said on Thursday night that the unpopular new lockdown was “important” and “necessary,” and warned that the government may need to tighten regulations further.

“We made every effort to balance health considerations and economic needs,” he said, but rising infection rates meant “there may be no choice but to tighten the restrictions. I won’t impose a lockdown for no reason, but I won’t hesitate to add restrictions if it’s necessary.

“My obligation and responsibility as prime minister is not only to protect your health, but to protect your lives,” he said, and noted, “There’s a limit to what the healthcare teams can do [before the system is overwhelmed].”

He urged the public: “Wear masks and avoid gatherings.”

“The more this is done, the less there is a need for stringent measures,” Netanyahu said. “Those two steps are more important than any measures we impose.”

He also said a vaccine for the virus was “on the horizon.”

“We’re coming close to a vaccine, but it will take a few months until we see the first vaccines, and a little more time before we get them. But it’s on the horizon, something I couldn’t tell you a few weeks and months ago.”

The rules have faced opposition from religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews, because they will impact public prayer services during the High Holidays; from business owners, because of the loss in trade; and from the general public, because the closure of the education system will force many parents to miss work as they stay home to care for young children.

Header: Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray at a synagogue, separated by plastic to stem the spread of the coronavirus, in the central city of Rehovot, September 16, 2020. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP)

Source: TOI