Government to Deliberate Plan for Full Lockdown

YERUSHALAYIM -
Police guard at a temporary roadblock on Highway 40 in October. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The government is set to meet Wednesday afternoon for deliberations on a new Health Ministry plan calling for a third comprehensive nationwide lockdown.

The Health Ministry is recommending that Israel impose a full lockdown in the coming days, similar to the two previous lockdowns imposed in the spring and fall. According to Channel 12, the lockdown will begin 48 hours after the end of the meeting.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is apparently set to demand another two- or three-week lockdown, which would include full shutdown of trade and the education system. Although the ministers are not set on a particular date, the lockdown is set to begin sometime next week in an effort to give the public time to prepare.

The plan would bar Israelis from traveling more than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from home, except for essential needs, and would include a total closure of the education system, including kindergartens and preschools.

The lockdown drawn up by the Health Ministry would also force the closure of all non-essential businesses.

In contrast to the second lockdown, the third lockdown would not be lifted, under the Health Ministry’s plan, until the number of new coronavirus diagnoses per day falls to under 1,000. In the previous lockdown, the criteria for ending the lockdown included having fewer than 2,000 new cases diagnosed per day.

According to estimates by the Health Ministry, if the lockdown is imposed now, it will take three to four weeks for the infection rate to fall to 1,000 new diagnoses per day. A senior Health Ministry official said that if the new lockdown is imposed only after Israel reaches 5,000 new cases per day, it will take five weeks to end the new lockdown.

It is unclear whether the government will adopt the Health Ministry plan, or instead choose to tighten various restrictions on public activity, without a full lockdown.

Health Ministry officials believe that there will be strong opposition to the proposal due to the potential damage another lockdown would cause to certain sectors of the economy as well as the tense atmosphere expected at the meeting in light of the new elections.