“Israel must take the hard steps sooner, rather than later,” the Israeli prime minister said during a live address on Wednesday night in which he announced special stipends for children and seniors.
By World Israel News Staff
During a live address on Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced even tighter restrictions on movement and gatherings, reiterating emphatically that Israelis may only observe the Passover holiday this year among immediate family members with whom they currently reside.
Netanyahu also specifically addressed the city of Bnei Brak, a corona hotspot adjacent to Tel Aviv that has one of the highest infection rates in the nation. Most entrances and exits to the city will now be closed, with those infected evacuated to medical hotels outfitted to host corona patients.
The prime minister expressed hope that these steps could slow contagion from spreading among family members in Bnei Brak.
Those who enter Israel from abroad will now face involuntary 14-day quarantine in a medical hotel, a step taken after a rash of passengers arrived on Wednesday from foreign countries and was permitted to reenter Israeli society without being tested for the virus.
All Israelis who leave their homes were advised to wear masks or use scarves or other improvised coverings to shield their mouths and noses.
In addition to tightened safety regulations, Netanyahu announced that all Israelis will receive stipends for up to four children, amounting to about $150 per child. Seniors will also receive assistance.
Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov spoke after Netanyahu, repeating the prime minister’s exhortations regarding the Passover holiday, which is a popular time under normal circumstances for Israelis to host and attend large, festive meals with family and friends.
The restrictions will force many seniors, young people, and single immigrants to spend the holiday alone because the new restrictions limit gatherings on the holiday to members of the same immediate family who live together currently.
Prior to the address on Wednesday evening, Israelis had already been ordered to stay within 100 meters of their homes, barring a short list of approved exceptions, such as trips to medical facilities, pharmacies, and grocery stores. The restrictions on movement are being enforced by the police, who are issuing fines and threatening imprisonment.
On Wednesday, patrols monitored communities throughout Israel, from large cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to small villages in Samaria.
As of Wednesday evening, 26 Israelis had died of coronavirus, with upwards of 6,000 diagnosed with the illness.
On Tuesday, Israel placed first in the “Covid-19 Health Safety Countries Ranking” released by Deep Knowledge Ventures, which examined 200 data points for 50 countries to compare infection rates, government transparency, healthcare systems, medical professionals, hospitals, military mobilization, and resilience.