Nationwide weekend lockdowns expected as Israel’s corona cases soar

Weekend lockdowns, indoor gatherings restricted to 10 people among drastic measures to be taken to get daily infections down to 400 by end of August.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A meeting of cabinet ministers on Thursday concluded that a nationwide lockdown was necessary this weekend, starting Friday and ending on Sunday, when the Israeli workweek begins. Weekend lockdowns may become commonplace until the pandemic is back under control.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the meeting, which included not only cabinet ministers, but also health professionals and members of the National Security Council. Those present deemed a lockdown advisable.

The decision will still need to be approved by an emergency meeting of the cabinet, which will take place on Thursday evening. There is a question mark whether the necessary government approvals can be reached in time for this weekend’s lockdown to legally take effect.

The Health Ministry announced 1,898 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, an infection rate of seven percent. The number of Israelis sick with the virus passed 24,000. The number of serious cases is also rising and hospital wards are filling up.

Netanyahu on Wednesday said at a televised press conference that the government will do all it can to avoid the type of  longer-term lockdowns that took place during the first wave.

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“I have been holding urgent discussions since this morning following the jump in Israel in the second wave of corona: About 1,800 patients and an increase in the doubling of the critically ill,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“This is basically the goal of this debate, to take intermediate steps to prevent a general closure in light of the huge jump in morbidity… and the doubling of critically ill patients every seven days,” he said in the tweet.

In order to get the daily infections down to below 400 by the end of August, the country will go into lockdown mode each weekend with beaches and malls closed, Channel 12 news reported.

Gatherings all week will be restricted to 20 people outdoors and only 10 people indoors, including houses of worship.

Dining at restaurants will be prohibited and eateries will be allowed to operate for deliveries only.

Gyms will be closed, but beaches will be allowed to operate during the week. With August being the traditional month most Israelis take vacations, it remains to be seen if beaches will be able to remain open even on weekdays.

The proposed weekend closures will run from Friday morning to Sunday morning with people allowed out of their homes for essential needs only.

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Beginning on Sunday, all summer vacation programs that have been running at schools will be shut down and half of the civil service will work from home.

However, with many of the closure orders requiring changes to legislation that have to be voted on in the Knesset, it is doubtful whether the changes will be able to take effect this weekend, the report said.