Lockdown to Ease Sunday Morning as Death Toll Continues to Climb

YERUSHALAYIM -
Police at a temporary roadblock in Yerushalayim last week, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s third lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus is set to ease on Sunday at 7 a.m, as the country continues to grapple with thousands of daily new cases and a death toll that has passed the 5,000 mark.

The lockdown was initially scheduled to lift partially on Friday, after over a month, but a Cabinet agreement late Thursday extended the closure to Sunday following an hours-long meeting and heated exchanges between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Once the lockdown eases, restrictions on individual travel to within 1,000 meters of people’s homes will be lifted; nature reserves, national parks, heritage sites and Israel Antiquities Authority sites will reopen to the public; businesses that do not cater to the public will reopen; restaurant takeaway services and businesses with individual interactions, like barbers, will be allowed to operate; and vacation rentals will be allowed to cater to single families.

As of Motzoei Shabbos, there was no agreement regarding the reopening of kindergartens or grades one through three. A government statement Friday said a decision on this would be made following separate discussions between the Health and Education Ministries.

The government is expected on Sunday to extend the closure on the education system by 48 hours to Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said that 6,271 people tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, while 40 patients lost their lives.

The Ministry said over 79,000 tests had been conducted on Friday, putting the contagion rate at 7.8%.

The country’s official death toll now stands at 5,057.