Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a dramatic announcement on Motzoei Shabbos, explaining the new steps being taken by the Israeli government in the effort to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases of those who are diagnosed with the illness in Israel reached 193.
“We will be changing our policies every few days to stay up with the changes, keeping ahead of this virus,” Netanyahu said. “We all need to adopt a new daily routine. Our policy is dynamic, which is why the situation in Israel is one of the best worldwide.
“In order to combat this virus it will be up to the citizens to follow the guidelines to reduce the number of infections,” he noted.
“We will use digital means to track coronavirus patients,” he said, adding, “This was approved by the court. It is a rare measure that has in the past only been used in times of war. But we are in a rare situation, one we never encountered, and there is no choice. We must stop this virus.
“It is very important for those who are quarantined, to remain in quarantine,” Netanyahu emphasized.
The admonition is a particularly important one because numerous Israelis have not taken the self-quarantine instructions seriously and were spotted out of their homes. As a result, many others may have been exposed to the virus.
He added that he asked for Justice Ministry approval because those measures would infringe patients’ privacy.
“The enemy is invisible but we must locate it,” Netanyahu said.
To minimize the infection spreading, malls, hotels, cafes, restaurants and theaters will shut down, employees should not go to their workplaces if not necessary, while vital services, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks will continue to operate.
The IDF said that all its troops have been ordered back to their bases on Sunday morning and that combat soldiers should prepare for a lengthy stay at their bases with no leave for up to a month.
A total of 193 people have tested positive for the virus so far in Israel with no reported fatalities, according to the Health Ministry. Many of the confirmed cases had been on international flights in the past two weeks.
On the other hand, Netanyahu said, there is no shortage of food, no shortage of medicine, and no shortage of money. “There is no reason for hysteria and panic shopping,” he said. “There is no lack of supplies, and the supermarkets remain well stocked, including Pesach supplies.”
A Health Ministry official, Professor Sigal Sadetsky, spoke after the prime minister, announcing that no gatherings of more than 10 people will be allowed, drastically down from last week’s restriction of a maximum of 100 people, at work, in public and even at home, she said.
And in those gatherings of a maximum of 10, the professor said, each person must remain two meters’ distance from the next.
All school programs for all ages are now suspended indefinitely, including nursery school, kindergarten and day care.