Cabinet Meets on Chanukah Restrictions as Israel Nears 2,000 New Daily Cases

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli police seen at the entrance to the neighborhood of Ramot in Yerushalayim as Israel enforces a lockdown in September. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel now again stands on the verge of 2,000 new daily coronavirus cases as officials on Thursday posted 1,828 new cases on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said 73,146 COVID-19 tests were conducted on Wednesday, putting the contagion rate at 2.5%.

At least 318 patients are in serious condition, of whom 100 are ventilated. Israel’s death toll now stands at 2,934.

The government is meeting Thursday morning to determine a new list of Chanukah restrictions, after its attempt to enact a night curfew was shot down by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit.

“We are trying as little as possible to harm the economy but we must prevent the spread of the disease,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said at the start of the meeting.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned: “We can very quickly get to the point of a lockdown and we want to avoid that.”

On the table are shuttering stores early in the evening and asking people not to congregate in each other’s homes or at shul. If approved, all movement between cities and trade will cease operating at 5:30 p.m., although Finance Minister Yisrael Katz set the demand for the hour to be moved to 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said the northern city of Kiryat Bialik and the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh, near Yerushalayim, have now been designated “red,” indicating a high infection rate. Among other municipalities that are now considered red are Jadeidi-Makr, Zemer, Ilut and Peki’in.

There is some encouraging news, however, as the Arab town of Ar’ara turned from red to orange and Ramat Hasharon went from orange to yellow. The municipalities of Oranit, Yavneh, Yehud, Netivot and Ramat Yishai turned from yellow to green.