Corona Cabinet Decides to Impose Lockdowns in 30 ‘Red’ Cities

Police manning a roadblock at Beitar Illit, under a weeklong lockdown due to the pandemic, in July. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Coronavirus Cabinet decided Thursday afternoon, after a lengthy meeting, to impose a lockdown on 30 “red” cities that have high coronavirus infection rates.

The lockdowns are set to take effect on Monday.

The twelve “red” cities considered as higher risk will have full lockdowns. Among the restrictions, educational institutions will close – apart from special education, exit from home will be restricted to 500 meters, entry and exit from the city will be banned except for city residents who go out for essential work, and stores that are not food or medicine will close.

At the meeting, it was explained that this is a move that precedes a general closure that will be imposed on the entire country. It was also decided that the Cabinet would convene in another week for another discussion so they would examine the morbidity data in light of the opening of the school year and the opening of most of the institutions.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz vehemently opposed the prospect of general closure, saying that such a move will inflict severe damage to Israel’s economy.

The chareidi cities on this list are: Bnei Brak, Elad, Beit Shemesh and Beitar Illit.

Other cities on the list are Tira, Kfar Qassem, Umm al-Fahm, Lakia, Daliyat al-Carmel, Ma’ale Iron and Taibeh of the Arab sector.

The other 18 cities that are defined as “red,” including chareidi towns Rechasim and Emanuel, will also be subject to restrictions, including a night curfew, the closure of educational institutions and the closure of some of the businesses.

The list of the “red” cities will be updated on Sunday, based on the new numbers.

It should be noted, however, that a large part of the increase in the positive cases in the chareidi public can be attributed to outbreaks in a number of yeshivos, where hundreds have tested positive in recent days. Most of the bachurim are closed in the yeshivos until Yom Kippur and are not at home, and in addition, these cases are counted in their city of origin, which produces an artificial inflation of the data, which makes the statistic totally unreliable and the closures unfair on these cities.

After the meeting, Housing Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said that “unfortunately, I was right in what I have warned in recent weeks, that the decision for a closure now is part of an orderly plan by some of the parties, to close the country over the chagim and shuls on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos, which we will not allow in any which way.

“I therefore vehemently opposed during the discussion in the Corona Cabinet the decision to impose a closure on cities designated as red. As it has been proven in the field from recent experience that a closure that is not targeted at a particular neighborhood is not effective in reducing morbidity, but has turned out to be a collective punishment measure, which is disproportionate and incorrect.

“I reiterate,” said Rabbi Litzman, “apply equitable and clear guidelines to go back and defeat the coronavirus. Only with transparency can we restore the public’s trust and the cooperation of the citizens of Israel in cutting off the chain of disease.”

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