Photo Credit: David Cohen / Flash 90
Purim in Tzfat, 2018

The Coronavirus Cabinet on Tuesday night voted to approve a night curfew for the upcoming Purim holiday out of concern that the 3-day celebration would become another “super-spreader affair.”

The curfew will take effect on Thursday night at 8:30 pm and run until 5 am Friday. It will again take effect Friday night at 8:30 pm and run until 5 am Shabbat morning, and again take effect on Saturday night at 8:30 pm (the eve of Shushan Purim in walled cities, including Jerusalem), running until 5 am Sunday morning.

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The restrictions of the night curfew limit people to traveling only up to 1,000 meters (one kilometer) from their homes, except for essential needs such as medical treatment or to obtain food or medicine.

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy noted Monday night during an interview with Channel 12 that there is a “marked increase” in alcohol sales ahead of parties. The Health Ministry said the country would operate in accordance with Green Pass guidelines and hope that Israelis would exercise personal responsibility.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said at a briefing that 70 percent of Israelis over the age of 16 have received at least their first of the two injections in the coronavirus vaccine series.

“The good news: Over 70 percent of Israeli citizens over age 16 have been vaccinated,” Edelstein said, “4,456,000 people, of whom 3,076,000 have received the second dose as well.

“The less good news: Mass infection parties have been planned for us,” he warned.

“Therefore, we will act to impose a night curfew and drastically reduce public transportation over the Purim holiday. These guidelines have been written in blood – keep them!” he urged.

In less than a day, Edelstein’s words were transformed to action in the cabinet as a night curfew was approved for the upcoming three-day Purim weekend.

“This happy holiday comes this year with a great fear that it will cause another outbreak of disease,” Coronavirus Commissioner Nachman Ash agreed during his own briefing.

“We remember what happened in the previous Purim holiday, and we are aware of the fragile situation today, and it is our duty to stop the increase in disease that may cause.

“If the guidelines are not observed, we may find ourselves again facing the closure of educational institutions,” he said. “I am not saying that one should give up the commandment of joy, but one can rejoice according to guidelines and responsibilities. It is important to remember that all our efforts to maintain restraint on Purim will help us to happily celebrate Passover.”

It is not yet clear when Ben Gurion International Airport will reopen for “free” travel. The most recent assessment was the airport might reopen on March 7, but on Tuesday night there were rumors it might not reopen until after Pesach due to the fluctuations in morbidity data.

Thus far, a total of 4,507,325 people in Israel have been vaccinated. Of those, 3,123,136 have received the second of the two-dose regimen in the coronavirus vaccine series. The figures include the data for the IDF.

Professor Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said in a tweet on Tuesday there are now 77 percent fewer cases of coronavirus among people 60 years and older; this includes 65 percent fewer severely ill people, and 63 percent fewer fatalities. There are also 68 fewer cases among individuals ages 55 – 59 and 54 percent fewer cases of the virus among people under 54.

In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday that he spoke on Monday with his “friend,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, about the vaccinations in Israel.

“We agreed that there will be a continuous supply of Pfizer vaccines without any shortage by Pfizer, without any shortage, interruption or halt,” he said. “Go and be vaccinated. We are also receiving more and more and more vaccines from Moderna. Go and be vaccinated,” Netanyahu urged.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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