Israel will begin its third full, nationwide lockdown on Thursday at midnight in an effort to stem the current upsurge in coronavirus infections.
The decision to close the school system and nonessential businesses for two weeks was arrived at after the coronavirus cabinet met for several hours on Tuesday. An exception will be made for special education.
The order comes after the daily number of virus cases in Israel surged to over 8,000.
In a statement released while the ministers were still in session, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “we are in the midst of a global pandemic that is spreading at top speed with the British mutation. It has reached Israel and is claiming many lives.”
He said that the country needed to “impose a full lockdown immediately” and that “every hour that we delay, the disease spreads even quicker, and it is exacting a heavy price.”
Coronavirus Commissioner Nachman Ash reported that 30 cases of the British mutation have been identified in Israel and that those individuals infected 189 others – an average of six people for every infected person.
According to reports, gatherings will be reduced from 10 to five people indoors and from 20 to 10 people outside. All businesses will be closed, except for those that sell essential products or offer essential services, the definition of essential to be determined by the ministers of health and finance.
Travel abroad will be allowed only for essential purposes. People who purchased airline tickets before the lockdown will still be permitted to leave the country, but no new tickets will be validated.
Restrictions already in place will continue: movement from home restricted to a radius of 1,000 yards; retail stores will be closed and restaurants will be limited to delivery only, no takeout. People will not be allowed to congregate in each other’s homes.
Individual sporting activities will still be allowed.