Public defiance, official disorganization and political bickering have so far combined to make Israel’s third nationwide lockdown an ineffectual and dispiriting affair.
As of Monday evening, compliance with the new restrictions, which began the night before, were spotty, at best.
Roads and highways were “packed with cars,” despite 1-kilometer limits on non-essential movement, and “Israelis are out and about with little enforcement,” The Times of Israel reported.
Many restaurants were seen serving takeout orders in violation of the rules, according to Channel 12.
At Yerushalayim’s famous Mahane Yehuda Market, it was business as usual, as many stalls openly defied the government order, which requires all nonessential businesses to close.
On the eve of the lockdown, business owners were telling reporters that they had to stay open, or face financial ruin.
The statements from some MKs contending that the restrictions were unnecessary and politically motivated no doubt contributed to the non-compliance. Likud and Blue and White fought over the issue of school openings on Sunday, the latter saying that they could stay open as in other countries, while Likud accused them of endangering life when coronavirus rates were surging.
Meanwhile, the quarantine policy for people entering the country from abroad was disintegrating.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday evening that the arrivees should be allowed to quarantine at home, on condition they undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport.
“I’m not sure there’s a need for the quarantine hotels [to continue]. We’re weighing whether to continue with this,” Health Ministry director Ggneral Chezy Levy told the Kan public broadcaster.
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch tweeted: “In light of the reasonable assumption that the vaccines are effective against this mutation as well, it seems right to move to home quarantine and stop the quarantine in hotels.”
The scheme has been an abysmal failure, in any case. According to Army Radio, of the 2,100 people who landed at Ben Gurion Airport in the past day, only 600 went to the COVID hotels, as current regulations require.
A number of those who have gone to the hotels have complained bitterly over the chaotic conditions.
Dozens of people quarantined in a state-run hotel in Yerushalayim attempted to break out of the facility, according to reports on Monday.
Security guards at the entrance of the Leonardo hotel forced the residents back inside, according to Channels 12 and 13.