Israel Prepares for Third Lockdown With Police to Set Up Over 300 Checkpoints

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

Israel will begin its third national lockdown at 5 p.m. on Sunday, as coronavirus cases across the country continue to surge.

Some 2,630 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed on Shabbos, and the positivity rate stood at 4.1% after 64,662 tests were conducted.

The Police said Sunday that they would concentrate enforcement efforts on illegal gatherings during the lockdown.

Unlike in the two previous lockdowns, the police said they would not be setting up roadblocks during the day, to enforce the ban on movement of more than one kilometer from home. They also said they would favor dialogue with citizens over the imposition of fines.

Temporary roadblocks will be set up on intercity roads for spot checks solely to ensure people are in compliance with the lockdown directives that allow some people to travel to work, and in an effort to avoid the traffic jams and delays that were seen during the lockdown imposed over the chagim in September.

In the evening hours, police will increase their presence on roads to prevent unauthorized movement with an estimated 300 roadblocks going up all over the country from the early evening hours until midnight.

“We are facing a complex reality,” said Assistant Commissioner Shimon Nachmani, Israel Police head of operations.

“The third lockdown is unlike the first two previous ones. We must demonstrate our resilience along with our restraint in order to prevent a rise in morbidity,” he said.

Police also committed to increased enforcement in the chareidi and Arab communities, where infections rate are higher.

Over the past week, police officers issued around 10,000 fines for various coronavirus guideline violations, a majority of which were for failure to wear a mask in public.

The lockdown is expected to last beyond the two weeks announced by the government and will remain in place until the daily infection rate drops below 1,000 new cases and the R number (indicating the number of people each infection person passes the virus to) is found to be below 1.

As Israel’s inoculation drive enters its second week, 280,000 people have already received their first dose of coronavirus vaccination.