Third Lockdown to Cost Tens of Billions of Shekels

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israelis wear protective face masks near a closed restaurant in Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The estimated cost of the third nationwide lockdown that will begin on Sunday is set to run into the tens of billions of shekels, even if it is to last only two weeks – and certainly if it is extended further, Yediot Acharonot reported.

Most of the damage will come from shuttering commerce and again funding furlough for more than 100,000 employees, many of whom will have no job to go back to. The government will have to pay billions in unemployment.

Yediot has learned that efforts are underway in the Finance Ministry and in the Prime Minister’s Office to come up with a new assistance package for businesses.

According to a study conducted by Roby Nathanson, CEO of the Macro Center for Political Economics, the third lockdown will cost NIS 26.8 billion if it lasts no longer than three weeks.

Nathanson said the lockdown itself will cost NIS16.2 billion, but the cost of a gradual exit from closure could add an additional NIS 10.6 billion to the bill.

The Finance Ministry on the other hand, says the cost to two weeks of lockdown will be in the area of NIS 3 billion, unless it is extended. Business industry leaders say that estimate is far too low.

The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce calculates the loss of revenue at half a billion shekels per day on average, bringing the price of a two-week lockdown that involves the loss of 10 -12 workdays to NIS 5-6 billion, according to conservative estimates.

The federation also says most businesses will furlough their employees indefinitely and family incomes that have already been impacted severely will be reduced further, leading to less spending.

Federation chairman Uriel Lynn says the government has made a mistake in imposing a third lockdown, warning it will be a death blow to many businesses.