Israel approved a second general lockdown on Sunday evening as coronavirus cases surge across the country. The lockdown, which is expected to start Friday afternoon, will see the country return to many of the same severe restrictions of the first lockdown back in April.
Schools, restaurants (except delivery), and entertainment venues will all close, as well as other businesses, for an initial period of three weeks. The public sector will operate with a limited workforce, while private sector businesses can operate as long as non-employees do not enter the workspace.
People will be required to stay within 500 meters of their home. Emergency services, pharmacies and food stores will remain open. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 20 people, while indoor gatherings will be limited to 10.
Restrictions will be eased once Israel records a sharp decline in infection rates, though no number has been put on what might constitute such a decline.
At a cabinet meeting earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country’s coronavirus czar had raised “a red flag regarding the ability of the health system to handle the challenges that are upon us, and (thus) the need to take the necessary steps as a result.”
By the numbers: Netanyahu announced the lockdown after coronavirus cases surged last week, hitting a new daily high of 4,217 cases in 24 hours on Thursday, the third straight day with more than 4,000 new cases recorded.
The number of patients in serious condition has also steadily climbed, reaching a high of 513 serious cases and 138 on ventilators as of Saturday.