Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90
Israeli Police set up checkpoints at the entrance to Bnei Brak as part of an effort to enforce a lockdown, March 31, 2020

The ministers of the Coronavirus Cabinet have approved a full lockdown to begin on Tuesday, September 15, three days before the start of the High Holidays (September 18).

The vote was eight in favor, four opposed.

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The government cabinet will vote to make a final decision on the measure this coming Sunday. The lockdown plan would start with a full lockdown, and then allow for a phased and selective reduction depending on the country and local statistics.

First stage: Lockdown

Actions to be carried out:

1. Restrictions on movement of 500 meters from one’s place of residence

2. The closure of education institutions except for special education (grade 5 and up will learn remotely during the holidays)

3. Closure of private and public sector activity (work from home as much as possible)

4. Prayers in public spaces pursuant to an outline that will be agreed upon

5. Complete closure of restaurants (except for delivery service), places of recreation, businesses, commerce and domestic tourism

Second stage: Tightened restraint

Actions to be carried out:

1. Restriction on movement between cities

2. Restriction on gatherings throughout the period according to red zone restrictions of the traffic light plan

3. Complete closure of restaurants (except for delivery service), places of recreation, malls, domestic tourism, commerce and businesses that receive the public

4. Closure of education institutions except for special education, throughout the period, except for remote learning for grade 5 and up. The resumption of classes after the Sukkot holiday will be evaluated according to a special assessment of the situation.
5. The public sector will be on an emergency footing.

6. Private sector – Work of 30-50% scope at places that do not receive the public (offices, factories, etc.), work from home as much as possible

Third stage – Traffic light plan

Transition to activity according to the traffic light plan upon the conclusion of the first two stages

Israel’s Health Ministry announced Thursday night a record 4,015 new cases of COVID-19 had been diagnosed in the past 24 hours, making it clear that strong measures needed to be taken in order to stop the spread of the virus, one way or the other.

It was the first time the number of daily new cases had passed the 4,000 mark, and a horrific indication of the current situation in the Jewish State.

There were least 487 very serious cases, out of whom 137 require respirators to survive.

Worse, the death toll rose to 1,075, a number that increased by 22 deaths since the previous day.

Both Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) and Coronavirus Czar Professor Roni Gamzu recommended a lockdown.

“We have no choice but lockdown,” Edelstein said during an interview earlier in the day on Galei Tzahal Army Radio. “It saddens me that the morbidity rate does not allow for any other possibility. For three months I tried to fight this battle in another way,” he said.

Likewise, Gamzu had told reporters ahead of the Coronavirus Cabinet meeting that hospitals had indicated they are close to being overwhelmed.

“Prof. Gamzu and the hospital directors came to the Corona Cabinet today and waved the red flag,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement to media.

“They said that even though the number of severe cases in Israel is still relatively low, this could change in an instant and the hospitals will then be unable to treat them and there will be many severe cases and many deaths.

“They said that action must be taken – but we need to take action sagaciously and not recklessly.”

The proposed lockdown under discussion is likely to last about a month, beginning September 15 and possibly extending until after Simchat Torah, Sunday Oct. 11.

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