Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced a new countrywide lockdown will be imposed amid a cussed surge in coronavirus cases, with schools and parts of the economy expected to close down in a tender to cause down infection rates.
Beginning Friday, the start of the Jewish High Holiday season, schools, restaurants and hotels will shut down, among other businesses, and Israelis will face restrictions on movement. “Our goal is to stop the increase (in cases) and lower morbidity,” Netanyahu said in a nationally broadcast observation. “I realize that these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. This isn’t the holiday we are used to.” The tightening of measures marks the second one time Israel is being plunged into a lockdown, after a lengthy shutdown in the spring.
That lockdown is credited with having brought down what were much lower infection numbers, but it wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, sending unemployment skyrocketing.
The lockdown will remain in place for a minimum of three weeks, at which point officials are expected to loosen up measures whether numbers are seen declining.
Israelis generally hold large circle of relatives gatherings and pack synagogues right through the important fast of Yom Kippur, settings that officials feared could trigger new outbreaks.
A sticking point in government deliberations over the lockdown was once what prayers would seem like right through the holidays.
The strict limits on faithful prompted Israeli Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who represents ultra-Orthodox Jews, to resign from the government.
Israel has had more than 150,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 1,100 deaths.
Provided its population of 9 million, the country now has one of the crucial world’s worst outbreaks. It is now seeing more than 4,000 day-to-day cases of the virus.
Israel earned compliment for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak, moving quickly to seal the country’s borders and appearing to cause infections under regulate.
It has since been criticized for opening businesses and schools too quickly and allowing the virus to spread unchecked.
Much of that criticism has been aimed at Netanyahu, who has faced a public outcry over his handling of the crisis and has seen thousands of protesters descend on his Jerusalem residence each week.
While lauded for his decisive response following the spring outbreak, Netanyahu appeared distracted by politics and personal affairs, including his trial for corruption allegations, as infections rose over the summer.
Netanyahu has also been lambasted for seeming to cave to pressure from quite a lot of interest groups, including most recently his ultra-Orthodox governing partners, who gave the impression to have convinced him to desert a pinpointed, city-based lockdown plan that would have mostly affected ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities.
At the press convention Sunday announcing the lockdown, Netanyahu defended his response, saying Israel’s economy had emerged from the first lockdown in a better state than many other developed nations and that while cases were high, the country’s coronavirus mortality numbers were lower than other countries with similar outbreaks.
The country’s power-sharing government, made up of two rival parties who joined forces in a stated aim to combat the virus, has also been chided for the new outbreak.
The government has been accused of mismanagement, failing to properly address both the health and economic crises wrought by the virus and leading the country to its second lockdown.
Some government ministers meantime have pointed fingers at what they’ve called an undisciplined public, who they have got accused of violating restrictions against public gatherings and mask wearing.