Israeli government to make a decision today on whether to impose a nationwide lockdown.
Image Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet are set to meet to decide whether a nationwide lock-down will be imposed. Israel has been struggling with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, ever since it stopped its lock-down and reopened the economy in late May. This brought about hardship to a lot of people and businesses. Unemployment soared to 20%, resulting in nationwide protests for the way the President of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu handled the coronavirus crisis.
The cabinet will decide today on whether to approve the multi-phase plan of the lock-down. The decision must be taken by 11pm today. The President of Israel is than set to leave the country to United States, in preparation for the signing of the normalization of relations with United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The signing will take place on Tuesday, September 15th in the White House.
Several ministers objected to the lock-down, and the Housing Minister, Yaakov Litzman has threatened to resign if the plan goes through. Some details of the lock-down plan were revealed to the cabinet last Thursday, and it was given preliminary approval by the ‘coronavirus cabinet’. If it goes through, it will start at 6am, Friday, September 18th. The date has been proposed by the Health Ministry and it might change if the cabinet ministers disagree with the date.
The first phase of the plan which will last 2 weeks, will involve restriction of movement. Most Isrealis will be restricted to travel only 500 metres far away from home, except when for essential supplies such as food and medicine.
Non-essential shops will be closed, but would be allowed to make deliveries. Restaurants would be allowed takeouts and deliveries. All workplaces would have to operate at 30% capacity or a maximum of 10 employees- the higher of the two is chosen. Certain companies which are considered essential will be exempted from this.
Prayers on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah will be allowed but limited. Groups of not more than 20, will be allowed in open areas, while indoors groups must not exceed 10 people.
On Channel 12, the Finance Minister announced that such closures would cost the economy $5.2 billion.
The second phase of the plan would initiate in October 1st. It will be subjected to the latest developments and it is expected to last 2 weeks too. Outdoor gatherings would be allowed up to 50 people and indoor gatherings would be increased to 25. Bars and clubs would remain closed, and businesses would still need to use the delivery system to sell to customers. Business would be allowed to operate between 30-50% capacity.
In the third and final phase, the government would introduce what is known as the ‘traffic light’ plan. This would adjust the plan on each city based on their morbidity rate.
This multi-phase plan proposal is highly controversial in Israel and a lot have threatened that they would not close their business. Economy ministers pointed out that this would spell disaster for an already damaged economy. Hotels expressed their anger for having to cancel all their reservations for the High holidays, in preparation for the lock-down. A lot of businesses would be expected to go out of business if this plan goes through.
As of Sunday morning, Israel total number of coronavirus cases is 153,217. The death toll since the beginning of the pandemic is 1,103.