Smotrich: Quarantine Policies ‘a Big Bluff’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Minister Betzalel Smotrich. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Cabinet minister overnight Monday approved closure and curfew orders that are to be put into place beginning Tuesday. Israelis are restricted to their home towns between 5:00 p.m. Tuesday and 5:00 a.m. Thursday. All stores will be closed, and no public transportation will be available. Previous orders restricting individuals to within 100 meters of their homes and from assembling in groups of more than two remain in effect.

The order covers Wednesday night as well, and all stores and bakeries will remain closed until Thursday morning. Officials said they were seeking to prevent large crowds from descending on bakeries, which usually open right after the conclusion of Pesach and offer Israelis their first taste of chametz in a week.

The closure and curfew are slated to be lifted Thursday morning, which means they will not cover the period of Maimuna, a popular folk celebration among North African Jewish communities. Health Ministry officials said that they expected those celebrating the day to maintain current social distancing practices and to enjoy the day at home, with their families.

Details of the telephone discussion between ministers were not released, but Kan News reported that there was sharp debate about the continuation of the quarantine Israelis have been under for over a month. The report quoted Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich as being sharply critical of Health Ministry quarantine policies. “The quarantine is a big bluff and Israelis understand this,” Smotrich reportedly told his fellow ministers. “They keep crying ‘close everything,’ it is beginning to sound like the story of the boy who cried wolf,” alarming everyone when there was nothing to be concerned about. “The Prime Minister makes a speech outlining the next step and only afterwards do the ministers make a decision,” he added.