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Israel under lockdown as coronavirus cases top 8,000 in a single day


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Israel under lockdown as coronavirus cases top 8,000 in a single day

Public transportation will operate in a limited format, mainly to allow essential and approved workers to get to and from their jobs. Police set up a checkpoint in Jerusalem as Israel enters its second coronavirus lockdown (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) The country headed into a tighter closure at 2 p.m. on Friday just before…

Public transportation will operate in a limited format, mainly to allow essential and approved workers to get to and from their jobs.

Police set up a checkpoint in Jerusalem as Israel enters its second coronavirus lockdown (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Police set up a checkpoint in Jerusalem as Israel enters its second coronavirus lockdown

(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The country headed into a tighter closure at 2 p.m. on Friday just before the Health Ministry released a new set of numbers showing that more than 8,000 people were diagnosed with coronavirus the day before.

Of the 66,640 people screened for coronavirus, some 8,178 were positive – 12.2%. Some 708 people are in serious condition, including 178 on ventilators.

The death toll rose to 1,412.

Among the newly diagnosed: Some 400 Jerusalem yeshiva students who had attended Rosh Hashanah prayers together. The students – married and single – were transferred to coronavirus hotels. 

“This state of emergency requires us to make difficult but necessary decisions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement shortly before the start of Shabbat. “It is not easy, neither in Israel nor in European countries, where the disease is also gaining tremendous momentum. But I serve you as the Prime Minister of Israel for the difficult days and for the difficult decisions.

“My only goal is to preserve the lives of people … the lives of all Israeli citizens – supporters and opponents alike. They are all my children, they are all dear to me, and I want to save everyone’s lives,” he continued. “Closure is not a punishment – it is a savior. I call on everyone to abide by the rules. We are one people, the coronavirus does not differentiate between us, so only together will we defeat the virus.”

On Friday, the Transportation Ministry released its guidelines for public transport and Ben-Gurion Airport, parts of the emergency directives that had not been finalized by the government earlier in the week.

Public transportation will operate in a limited format, mainly to allow essential and approved workers to get to and from their jobs.

In general, people are being asked not to leave their homes at a distance of more than one kilometer unless for an approved reason, such as to purchase food or obtain medicine.

Ben-Gurion Airport will be open for flights, but only those people who purchased tickets before the closure will be allowed to travel.

Upon arrival at the airport, travelers will be asked to present documentation of the date of purchase of their ticket, a valid ticket and possibly a negative coronavirus test, depending on their destination.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev called the plan “balanced” and meant to preserve “social solidarity … at such a complex time.”

Moreover, despite the initial intention to greatly reduce activity in the private sector, on Friday morning, the government did decide to approve work in many more industries, according to a recommendation of the Finance Ministry.

Among the sectors that can now operate are companies engaged in construction work, security, technology or finance; factories that provide essential services; institutions of higher education; drainage authorities; and ports.

The National Insurance Institute, youth-at-risk programs and local authorities, welfare and support services will also be allowed to operate, as will research laboratories that require physical attendance.

Additionally, one can go to their place of work to check up on it and ensure it is maintained. As was previously discussed, those who sell products related to Yom Kippur or Sukkot can operate, as well.

The Knesset Finance Committee met and approved in the first reading an amendment to the Economic Assistance Program that would help facilitate the allocation of grants to businesses and provide their owners with advance compensation for the months in which their businesses are harmed by coronavirus directives.

The second and third readings on the amendment are expected to take place next Tuesday.

The closure, which is expected to last two weeks or more, involves a number of restrictions on the public, including that people are prohibited from traveling more than one kilometer from their homes. People are allowed to gather in capsules of up to 20 people within that distance, including at parks and playgrounds.

In all public spaces, people must wear masks and maintain a distance of two meters from each other.

Customer-facing businesses are closed, including retail establishments. Restaurants can provide delivery service only. Food stands must shutter.

Only those stores that provide essential products (food, pharmaceuticals, hygiene, optics, home maintenance, electrical or communication) can stay opened.

Swimming pools and gyms are closed, as our hairdressers and beauty salons. Hanging out at the beach is also forbidden, unless for sport, and only then if the beach is within one kilometer from home.

People cannot visit each other’s homes, unless for an approved purpose.

View full list of restrictions >>

Police said they would be stepping up enforcement during this closure.

“The public needs to understand that leaving the house unnecessarily is life-threatening,” said the head of the police investigation division, Deputy Superintendent Ziv Sagiv, in an interview with KAN News. “We are at war.”

He said that his team would enforce capsules of 20 people at protests and capsules.

“Yom Kippur does not atone for the transgressions of a person to his friend,” Sagiv said. “There is no point in going to pray when you are endangering the lives of others.”

On Thursday, police had already increased their efforts. The police said they issued some 4,239 tickets for people violating Health Ministry restrictions over the last day.

Police said that thousands of police officers, border police officers and IDF soldiers will work together to ensure proper enforcement across the country.  Police officers will be deployed at all major thoroughfares and at the entrances to cities and will be checking travelers to ensure they are keeping the rules. Police helicopters will also monitor the streets for any unusual violations.

On Friday, the government approved the allocation of an additional 500 soldiers to reinforce the police, so that the total number of soldiers will stand at 1,500 soldiers. If needed, another 500 can be recruited, as well, with the consent of the Defense and Internal Security ministers.







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