Israel becomes 1st country to impose 2nd nationwide coronavirus lockdown

15 Septembre, 2020, 19:43 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men wearing a protective face masks due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and

The lockdown will remain in place for at least three weeks, at which point officials may relax measures if numbers are seen declining.

Israel declared an even tighter lockdown in April when the virus first arrived, after which daily cases dropped to low double digits among a population of nine million.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a second national coronavirus lockdown in the country during a TV news conference.

The restrictions - the most extensive Israel will have imposed since a lockdown that ran from late March to early May - are expected to go into effect on Friday, the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah, and span into the Yom Kippur fast day on Sept 27.

Restaurants are set to be closed to on-site dining and movement will be limited to 500 metres (1,650 feet) from one's home.

Under the guidelines, still to be finalised, indoor gatherings would be limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 20, meaning prayers at synagogues would be severely affected.

An Israeli cabinet minister tendered his resignation on Sunday in protest at a looming coronavirus lockdown that he argued would unfairly impede religious celebrations of Jewish holidays.

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According to Health Ministry data, as of Monday afternoon, there were 156,823 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, among those 40,561 active; 529 patients were in serious condition and 214 in moderate condition; 135 on ventilators; and a national death toll of 1,126.

"I know these measures will exact a heavy price from all of us", Mr Netanyahu said.

The country's health system "raised a red flag" a few days ago, spurring the government to act, Netanyahu said.

While initially earning praise for the quick response to close the country's borders, Netanyahu has since been blamed for opening businesses and schools too quickly and allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

Lauding the peace treaties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to be signed on Tuesday, Netanyahu stated that the cooperation with the two Arab countries would be a boon to the economies of all three, each of which had been dealt a blow by the pandemic.

It is now seeing more than 4,000 daily cases of the virus.

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