Israel’s Government to Set Nighttime Curfew Over Purim

Israeli police seen at the entrance to the neighborhood of Ramot in Yerushalayim during a night curfew in September. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel’s government will debate the proposal of a nighttime curfew over Purim, on Tuesday night.

The Health Ministry recommends a night curfew on Thursday, Friday and Motzoei Shabbos, from 8 p.m. until 5:00 in the morning. The Ministry also seeks to reduce the frequency of public transportation, and to cancel intercity buses during the days of Purim.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “On Purim last year there was a huge increase in infection and we do not want to see it again. Everything must be done to prevent this and pass Purim in peace. Complacency can kill and we must respond quickly to prevent an increase in morbidity.”

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein added to this: “I know that at least 70% do not maintain home quarantine. Yesterday the Constitution Committee refused to extend the isolation in corona motels. The Health Ministry is trying to achieve digital surveillance of quarantine at home. Even if we go for legislation, it will be very problematic from a legal point of view.”

Meanwhile, after weeks of continuous decline, Israel’s COVID-19 reproduction number returned to climb in recent days and has reached 0.86, the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center reported on Tuesday, raising concerns of resurging spread of the disease just days before Purim.

A reproduction number, or R number, higher than 1 indicates infections will grow at an exponential rate, while below 1 point to their eventual halt.

According to data, 4,677 new cases of coronavirus have been detected out of some 69,000 tests conducted on Monday, meaning 7% of tests yielded a positive result, topping the 6.5% weekly average.

Of all new coronavirus patients, 77% were under the age of 39, and only 6.2% were over 60.

The report warns that despite patients’ average age dropping, the extent of infections and the fact that a significant part of the population has not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 cause a slow reduction of serious illness.

There were 797 patients hospitalized in serious condition, 248 of them were connected to ventilators.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Israel, 5,604 people have died due to coronavirus-related complications.

The Health Ministry announced on Tuesday morning that over 70% of Israelis over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Out of 4.45 million inoculated citizens, more than 3 million have also received the second shot.

Some 157,000 people have been inoculated with either of both doses on Monday alone.