Officials Agree to New Restrictions, to Take Effect Wednesday Evening

The empty Beit Hakerem neighborhood in Yerushalayim on Wednesday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israeli officials approved new restrictions to curb the coronavirus outbreak in the early hours of Wednesday morning after hours of deliberations. These restrictions are set to come into effect Wednesday evening and will last seven days.

The talks were held Monday night and through Tuesday.

The new restrictions will further reduce public transport, requiring employers to check workers for fever and set sanctions for people who defy rules.

Israelis hoping for a stroll or jog were instructed to stay within 100 meters (110 yards) of their homes.

The specter of people, out for fresh air, jogging and congregating on city streets has alarmed health authorities. The new limit is meant to end such activity.

The private sector has had to limit employees at the workplace to 10 people or 30% of the company’s workforce, and most of the public sector has been put on leave.

Public transportation, already operating on reduced schedules, was restricted further to journeys to and from “essential” businesses and taxis were limited to one passenger.

People, though, could still drive themselves to work or to shops for essentials, and food delivery services were operating.

The new policies go into effect on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and will start to be enforced at 8 p.m. Those caught defying the orders will face a NIS 500 fine or a six-month jail term.

According to the new restrictions, weddings or other religious ceremonies are allowed, if 10-participant and two-meter distance rules are followed.

Employers were ordered to prevent anyone with a fever of 38 Celsius (100.4 F) from entering the workplace.

Israel‘s central bank on Tuesday projected an economic contraction of 2.5% in 2020 as long as the partial lockdown eases by the end of April.