Corona exit talk premature: Israel to impose further restrictions

Among the restrictions is the cancellation of Mimouna, a North African Jewish celebration held the day after Passover. 

By World Israel News Staff

Despite reports of a graduated exit strategy in the works, Israel will, at least in the near-term, harden restrictions to fend off the coronavirus.

Kan Bet reports that the guidelines include the reimposition of a ban on intercity travel ahead of the last day of Passover, which is a holy day and begins on Tuesday evening and runs through Wednesday. The curfew will be timed to coincide with the holy day.

The government will also order the cancellation of Mimouna celebrations. Mimouna is a North African Jewish feast traditionally held the day after Passover.

According to the report, the government is motivated by the same fears that caused it to tighten the curfew directly ahead of the first day of Passover. It worries that a loosening of restrictions coinciding with Mimouna and busy shopping as Israelis go out to stock up on food forbidden during the Passover holiday will lead to a spike in infections, as happened after Purim in March.

Another innovation is that city inspectors will be permitted to hand out tickets to citizens who venture beyond their neighborhoods. Inspectors have been limited to giving tickets to local businesses.

It may become a question of how long the Israeli public is willing to put up with restrictions on their movement.

In Jerusalem, residents confined to the neighborhood of Ramot were planning to file an emergency petition on Monday in the Supreme Court, asking for the lockdown to be lifted immediately.

However, senior government officials told Kan Bet that the situation wouldn’t return to normal even after Passover. One of the issues is that there aren’t enough corona tests, leaving the government without the information it needs to make decisions.

This may change quickly. The Health Ministry said, “The pace of tests is set to rise significantly this week. In recent days, there has been a decline in the number of tests due, in part, to the move to adapt the laboratories to locally made reagents, which will free Israel from the global struggle to obtain the material. In the coming days, equipment from China will allow significant jumps in the number of tests.”