Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis in a brief address to the nation Sunday night that once again there will have to be a total lockdown, because the number of red zones has skyrocketed from 30 to 70. “We simply have to act,” he said bluntly.
Netanyahu said in answering a reporter that the problem is not equipment, the problem is human resources. “It’s the capacity of the medical teams to keep working. Some of them are just falling off their feet,” he said.
But the bottom line is this: The lockdown begins this coming Friday at 2 pm – not 6 am as previously reported – and at this point will last at least until the end of the Simchat Torah holiday.
• The ministers have approved a three-week lockdown.
• Israelis must stay within 500 meters of their residence.
• Private sector can work as usual but may not accept customers.
• Supermarkets, pharmacies and deliveries will continue to operate.
• Malls, tourist venues, non-essential retail stores are closed.
• Schools are closed.
• Gatherings are restricted to maximum 10 indoors, 20 outdoors.
• Exercise / sport will be permitted beyond the 500-meter distance from home for individuals only.
• Special prayer arrangements will be made for the High Holidays, to be announced later.
“I know these steps are a heavy price for us all,” Netanyahu said. “These are not the holidays we are used to. We certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”
Compensation will be made available to those businesses that are hurt by the lockdown, he said.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Coronavirus Commissioner Roni Gamzu both addressed the nation following Netanyahu.
Edelstein said that for three months he tried to avoid a lockdown and did “everything so that we could live alongside the coronavirus, with rules here and there. In the circumstances that were created, we had no choice. It’s not easy.”
The bottom line, he said, is that if Israelis do not keep the rules, “all of this will be for nothing. . . “We need the public’s cooperation.”
Likewise, Professor Gamzu said the traffic light plan was no longer relevant either because there are now more than 60 red zones.
The government alone, he said, cannot defeat the coronavirus. “Only the Israelis, only you, can defeat the coronavirus. If we do it wisely, we can finish this in two or three weeks.”
Following the news briefing Netanyahu and his wife Sarah boarded a flight to Washington DC, where he will be hosted Tuesday at the White House by President Donald Trump and participate in a ceremony to sign normalization agreements with two Arab nations, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain.