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Israel: Full lockdown beginning Friday

The Cabinet ministers on Tuesday night approved the imposition of a full lockdown to begin at midnight Thursday night.

The lockdown will last two weeks and will include the shutdown of jobs and the education system.

At the same time, it was decided to restore the policy of sending Israelis returning from red countries to coronavirus hotels.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein presented to the government on Tuesday evening the restrictions he seeks to implement in the tighter lockdown which will take effect on Friday,

Edelstein addressed the issue of demonstrations and said, “Epidemiologically, the demonstrations are a danger. I do not understand why demonstrations need to be approved. The government has fallen anyway.”

“But if we now come up with a proposal to restrict demonstrations, the whole discourse will change and all the media will say that everything is just for political reasons. I chose the path of relying on broad public support,” the minister explained.

Edelstein further noted, “Despite repeated recommendations from Prof. Blitzer for weeks that have not been accepted so far, we have now decided to accept the recommendation and limit gatherings in a closed space to five people, and this includes synagogues.”

The Health Ministry’s proposal will include operating public transportation at no more than up to 50% capacity and tightening the restriction on gatherings: five people in a closed place instead of 10, and reducing gatherings in open areas from 20 people to 10.

During the lockdown, trade will be closed and exit from the house will only be allowed to essential workplaces. Individual sports activities will be allowed. Ministers will examine the possibility of closing the retail chains every evening at 7 PM in order to reduce the number of citizens leaving the house.

Education Minister Yoav Galant will agree to close the education system and seek to exclude special education.

Galant will demand that all grade school and kindergarten teachers be vaccinated as soon as possible.

”Teachers and kindergarten teachers are in charge of what is most precious to us – our children. I demand to vaccinate them immediately. I am convinced that the government will approve my recommendation,” he said.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Notes:

Ahead of a Tuesday meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, called to debate the Health Ministry’s proposals, Gantz and Netanyahu agreed that the increased measures would begin on Friday, the reports indicated.

Gantz had said he would support tightening the lockdown, on the condition that the court system remains open and protests were allowed to continue — apparently fearing the lockdown could be seen as an attempt to delay Netanyahu’s corruption trial or clamp down on ongoing demonstrations against him.

“The mutation is out of control, and here, too, we see a rise,” Netanyahu said, according to leaks from the meeting to Hebrew media. “The hospitals are warning that we are entering the most dangerous wave since the start of the pandemic and that if we don’t act immediately, we’ll lose many more people.”

According to the Walla news site, Gantz also appeared to pin the resurgence on the new strain. “There is no doubt that in light of the basic reproduction number of the mutation, we must take broad, general steps to reduce morbidity.”

According to reports, the Health Ministry plan would close all workplaces, except for essential workers. Gatherings would be limited to five indoors, 10 outdoors, and the limit on traveling beyond 1 kilometer from home would remain in place. Additionally, all schools would be shuttered, except for special education.

Israel began its third national virus lockdown last week, but the closure has been slammed as “ineffective and full of holes”, with schools and workplaces remaining largely open and a lack of enforcement.

Health officials have for days been urging a full lockdown, while many Israelis have been seen to be largely ignoring the instruction to stay home, amid apparent weariness with the ever-changing regulations and a sense that the vaccination campaign underway means the pandemic is nearing its end. Health officials have warned such attitudes are dangerous as cases spiral.

The current lockdown rules bar Israelis from entering another person’s home; restrict movement to one kilometer (six-tenths of a mile) from home, with exceptions, such as for vaccinations; shut down commerce (except for essentials), leisure, and entertainment; limit public transportation to 50% capacity; and limit workplaces that do not deal with customers face-to-face to 50% capacity.

Netanyahu, speaking at Monday’s meeting, reportedly asserted that alongside the fast-paced mass vaccination drive, stricter limits on public life for a short period will be enough to enable rolling back the restrictions and reviving the economy,

He said it will be “a final effort to eradicate the pandemic.”

Source: TOI