Cabinet measure to force people to stay home during Chanukah holiday slammed by health officials.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Health experts on Tuesday slammed the government decision to impose nightly curfews this week, saying the move made no sense and erodes public trust in the decision makers trying to navigate the country through the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday night, the prime minister’s office announced a nightly curfew will go into effect starting Wednesday, calling it a “night lockdown” during which commercial activity is banned and restrictions on movement would be imposed.
With coronavirus infections continuing their upward surge, the goal of the curfew is to reduce gatherings during the Chanukah holiday that begins Thursday evening, during which families and friends traditionally gather each night to light candles over the eight days of the holiday.
However, the head of the Israel Association of Public Physicians and a member of the team advising Israel’s corona task force sharply criticized the decision, saying it made no sense and only confuses the public.
“It doesn’t go together – closing at night and opening malls [during the day],” Dr. Hagai Levin told Channel 13. “If you say the situation is a catastrophe and there is nothing to do – do not open the malls. Why go on a route that is not helpful and is both harmful and increases the corona?”
“There is a consensus among experts who think this decision is incomprehensible and erodes public trust,” Levin said.
Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute said a night curfew will not help, because people will simply move the target of the lockdown – Chanukah gatherings and weddings – from the evening hours to earlier in the day.
“Instead of a night curfew, we have to enforce the [rules against] weddings and gatherings that take place contrary to the guidelines and have not been enforced for a long time,” Segal said.
On Tuesday morning, the Health Ministry announced there were 1,837 new infections in the past day, the highest number of daily infections since October 10, with the numbers increasing across the board. There are now 14,097 active cases in the country with hospitalizations rising to 569 patients; 339 are listed in serious condition.
Asked on Monday if the country was heading to its third national lockdown, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that vaccines are on their way and “we see the light at the end of the pandemic and we will solve this.”
Netanyahu added that handling the rising infections “must be done prudently.”
“I said yesterday that I would not hesitate to add or re-impose restrictions. The earlier we do so, the more we will reduce the duration of the restrictions,” Netanyahu said.
The decision on the curfew still has to be approved but is expected to get the go-ahead when the cabinet meets Tuesday evening.