Chanukah No-Visit Rule Called Off As Candle Lighting Begins

A large meorah being set up at the entrance to Efrat. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)

Late Thursday afternoon, as the first night of Chanukah approached, the coronavirus cabinet decided to shelve a proposal for a nighttime no-visit rule during the festival.

However, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office stipulated that “if the basic reproduction number reaches 1.32 or there are 2,500 new cases a day, Israel will go over to tightened restraint for three weeks.”

Further, it said that “if after three weeks from the start of tightened restraint, the basic reproduction number does not decline to 1, a general lockdown will be imposed.”

There was no definition offered for the term “tightened restraint.”

The announcement amounted to a reversal of the cabinet’s reported intention as of Wednesday to ban Israelis from visiting other people’s homes during the evening hours of Chanukah. It was unclear how police would have enforced such an order, as they cannot legally enter homes without a warrant.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to relent on the measure following consultations with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, according to Channel 12.

Another proposal to impose a nightly nationwide curfew was similarly abandoned earlier this week after facing legal obstacles.

Later on Thursday, Netanyahu made a statement in which he bristled at suggestions that the government had changed its mind about imposing restrictions during Chanukah and complained about media coverage of the cabinet meetings.

“Indeed, because legal problems arose regarding the night curfew during Chanukah, we said that we would go to the next two stages. I hope that we will not reach them but this is the reason. It is not that we made a u-turn…

“Israel has had great successes. Things are measured in successes, not in artificially inflating every debate and every discussion and if this or that minister opposed. We make the best possible decisions. I am proud of that. I am proud that we have brought to the little State of Israel, with nine million citizens, millions of vaccines before almost the entire world. I am proud that we are ready to distribute them in the best possible way, on the highest level in the world.

“I am proud that we have lowered morbidity and mortality to one of the lowest levels in the world, certainly in the western world. Therefore, we are making the right decisions and it is impossible to inflate every point and every debate. This is the decision-making process; we are doing so in the optimal manner. Things are measured by results; Israel’s results are excellent.

The remarks were made at the end of a visit to the Teva SLE Logistic Center, which is receiving the coronavirus vaccines currently arriving in Israel, under special conditions.

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