By: Aryeh Savir
The state of Israel will enter a three weeklong country-wide lockdown on Friday afternoon, hours before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, commences, another desperate government attempt to spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
Israel is the only country in the world to march into a second long closure.
After an eight-hour-long heated debate on the parameters of the lockdown, the Cabinet on Sunday evening approved the recommendation of the Health Ministry and ‘Magen Yisrael’ director Prof. Ronni Gamzu for a plan to lower morbidity in Israel.
The first stage calls for a complete lockdown. Businesses that do not receive customers and which provide essential services will continue operating according to the outline to be presented by the Finance Ministry.
Commerce, culture, recreation and domestic tourism, including swimming pools, gyms and restaurants, will all close. Only stores that provide essential services will remain open.
Movement will be restricted to 500 meters from one’s place of residents, except for essential needs.
The education system, except for special education, will be closed.
Gatherings will be restricted to 10 people in a closed space and up to 20 in an open area.
In his remarks to the press, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the full closure may last for more than three weeks.
“I know these steps have a high price for all of us and we cannot celebrate [the holidays] with the whole family,” he said.
The second stage calls for the implementation of the “Traffic Light Plan,” which enacts local restrictions in tandem with the infection rate in the area.
Limitations on air travel will be announced Monday.
A team headed by the Finance Minister will present an economic assistance plan by Thursday. The Finance Ministry published an estimate that a full closure will cost the economy NIS 20 billion.
The government formulated a special outline for the High Holiday prayers. In open areas, worshipers can pray in capsules of up to 20 people.
In closed structures or synagogues, the government issued a complex formula that is dependent on the size of the structure and the number of entrances it has.
Minister of Housing Yaacov Litzman, an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, resigned from the government over the restrictions, alleging that the government had deliberately targeted the Jewish holidays.
Netanyahu concluded his remarks with words of the prayer: “Our Father, our King, prevent an epidemic from your inheritance.”