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Israel returns to partial lockdown.

Image Credit: AP/Oded Balilty

In early Friday morning, the Isreali government, after a long emergency meeting, announced that a partial lockdown will be put in place. This was in response to a rise in the daily cases to 2000.

Gyms and fitness studios will be closed, with no chance of reopening any time soon. Restaurants will have to close too, but can do takeaways and deliveries. Gatherings of 10 or more people indoors, and more than 20 people outdoors will be banned. Restaurants, gyms and fitness studios will be closed exactly at 5pm on Friday.

Restaurants located inside hotels can operate, but at 35% capacity, and hotels can allow their pools open for visitors. Government offices will remain open but will be limited to 50% capacity. Coffee shops in work places will have to close. All shops will close, but essential services such as those offered by supermarkets and pharmacies, will remain open. Weekend restrictions of malls, markets, barbers, libraries, zoo, museums, hairdressers and tourist sites has also been approved. The restrictions will be removed on Sunday at 5am.

There are no restrictions on movement this weekend, and beaches will be left open on the condition that social distancing rules are followed. A full lockdown is expected the following week, starting from 24th July. It requires approval by the parliament for the it to be imposed.

There is confusion among some ministers regarding the lockdown. The head of the opposition, Yair Lapid, disagreed with the way the partial lockdown was announced. He believes it is confusing and not based on evidence as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

‘An entire country is trying to understand why decisions are made in the middle of the night without any data and isn’t able to’, Mr. Lapid said on Twitter.

This comes at a time, when the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to strike a balance between reducing the spread of the virus, and saving the economy. Lately, the Prime Minister has lost a lot of support due to the way he handled the pandemic. Israel was one of the countries that imposed an early strict lock-down in mid-March until late May. This has helped Israel to contain the virus, by reducing the daily infections to single digits, but at the expense of the economy. Unemployment in the country rose to 20% and protests were held last week by businessmen and shop owners, after they did not receive their promised aid from the government. Read more about it here:

The rise in cases is being blamed on the early reopening of the economy, which allowed the virus to spread again. As of today, the total number of cases in Isreal is 47,459, with 392 deaths.

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