Israel entered full lockdown on Friday.
Image Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Yesterday at 2pm, Israel entered full lockdown again, in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown is expected to last two weeks, and includes the holiday of Sukkot. This lockdown might be extended, if the rate of new cases do not go down. The multi-phase lockdown, which was discussed for several weeks, and was met by a strong opposition by some ministers, was softened last week to minimize the damage to an already damaged economy.
Despite the full lockdown, thousands of protestors showed up on Saturday in Jerusalem, and also hundreds of protestors showed up in Tel Aviv. Protests in front of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Caesarea was also reported. Police were seen handing out fines to protestors who were violating social distancing rules. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will attempt to pass the emergency regulations to clamp down on protests.
Most of the regulations initially proposed went into effect, but protests are still allowed, but limited. Prayers which were a subject of huge confusion, and uproar among the public was not included in the lockdown regulations. Prayers are still allowed so far, because the coronavirus cabinet does not have the authority to disallow it. It will need the approval of the Knesset, before any regulations on prayers can be introduced. Several experts believe that prayers held indoors is a major risk for contraction and spread of the coronavirus. Cities having the highest Ultra-Orthodox people, have the highest infection rates.
Businesses will be closed according to the new regulations, except from essential businesses. Restaurants can still operate, but only for home deliveries. The public won’t be allowed to travel to other towns, and will be restricted to travel not more than a kilometer away from their home, except to buy essential stuff like medicine and food. Police will be located in highways to make sure no Israelis attempt to travel.
Read more about the original multi-phase plan proposed two weeks ago, here:
On Friday, the Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said that the emergency regulations that he proposed were expected to bypass Knessat’s approval. Gatherings will be limited. The Health Minister expressed his commitment to save as much lives as possible in this crisis, ‘I see public health, first and foremost. I will not allow a risk to human life at any gatherings – not at demonstrations or at synagogues.’
An economist at the Israeli Finance Ministry, Shira Greenberg, estimated that the lockdown would cost Israel around $3.1 to $3.4 billion. Earlier this week, another forecast estimated that the cost would be far higher, at $10 billion.
Also on Friday, the Treasury released a statement, ‘The regulations approved this morning significantly softened the regulations presented in the coronavirus cabinet on Wednesday, thus reducing the cost of damaging GDP.’ If the lockdown is extended beyond Sukkot holiday, the Finance Ministry said they would revise the forecast.