Up Next for Closure: Bat Yam, Ashdod

Workers wearing protective gear seen disinfecting a public playground in Bat Yam. (Flash90)



The coastal city of Bat Yam was added to the list of partial shutdowns on Thursday, after several neighborhoods in Tiverya and Elad were red zoned the day before due to the coronavirus.

The weeklong closure in the city of approximately 128,000 people will not fall on all of Bat Yam, but rather will apply to specific areas: local beaches between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., limiting gatherings of more than 10 people, and closing shuls, according to media reports.


The coronavirus cabinet decided on additional closures on Thursday night, including Ashdod’s Gimmel, Zayin and Chet, the schools will be closed and a cap of 10 persons in gatherings, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Neighborhood 2 in Ar’ara BaNegev will remain a restricted zone until 08:00 next Wednesday.

The rate of new infections continued its worrying increase, as the Health Ministry on Thursday evening said that 688 new cases were reported since Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 6,084.

The Ministry said 47 patients are currently hospitalized, 29 of them on ventilators. To date, 309 Israelis have died of coronavirus, while 16,007 have recovered.

The educational system, which has been a major locus of the pandemic, 230 schools remain closed, with 22,850 students and staff members sent into quarantine.

In the military, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, commander of the IDF spokesperson’s unit, was ordered into quarantine after being exposed to a coronavirus carrier during a meeting last week. Zilberman will keep up with his duties as much as possible from home. He is reported feeling well and has no symptoms, will soon take a COVID-19 test.

About 100 officers and soldiers from the spokesperson’s unit are also entering quarantine.

Military Intelligence chief Tamir Hayman and an unspecified number of other senior intelligence officials have been sent into quarantine after exposure to an IDF officer who tested positive for the virus last week, the military said. They too are feeling well and will undergo the routine tests.

Israeli officials are carefully monitoring and evaluating developments. Newly-appointed Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy told Kan news that “Infections are doubling about every eight to 10 days,” he said. “We are walking on a tightrope.”

Nevertheless, he held to message that the government does not at the moment contemplate a return to general shutdown.

Head of Public Health Prof. Sigal Sadetsky told N12 late Wednesday: “I don’t think the issue is that people are not listening. We are all in this boat together and no one wants to lockdown again. The million-dollar question is how to balance between zero and 100.”

Later on Thursday, Levy previewed upcoming measures to stem the surge.

The maximum number of participants at weddings, currently at 250, was likely to come down. “Additional restrictions are on the table for discussion, such as whether we take a step back in the area of events held in halls,” Levy told Army Radio. “Weddings may have to be smaller, if there is no choice.”

He did not discuss cultural events, which are also held now at up 250 people with exceptions made for 500 in certain situations.

Levy also said that day camps for younger children would be allowed to open, but not for older children and teenagers, though he did not explain the reason for the differentiation.

“We will allow day camps if the framework ensures children’s health, but summer camps will not be [opened] because of the behavior of young people,” he said. “We are now discussing the outline and want groups to be limited, but the numbers have not yet been confirmed. We will need social distancing to be maintained and monitoring to prevent contagion as much as possible.”

Sadetzky told the Ynet she would advise older people, considered a high-risk group, not to go to public events.

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