By Tony Winterburn • 14 September 2020 • 6:00
Israel is to impose a new national lockdown with tough restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.
ISRAEL’S second lockdown will begin on Friday and last at least three weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measures would “exact a heavy price on us all,” but the country faced a surge with 4,000 new daily infections. Mr Netanyahu said, “Our goal is to stop the increase (in cases) and lower morbidity. I know that these steps come at a difficult price for all of us. This is not the holiday we are used to.”
Already, a minister has resigned to protest against the restrictions that overlap with important Jewish festivals. Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who leads an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party, said the measures would prevent Jewish people from celebrating their religious festivals, including Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, on September 27.
The Treasury predicts there will be at least a €2.5 billion hit to the economy as the three-week nationwide closure, during which Israelis will be kept within 500 metres from homes, will see schools, restaurants, shopping centres and hotels closed. The lockdown is expected to remain in place for at least three weeks, after which officials are expected to relax measures if numbers are seen to be reducing.
Israel has so far had more than 150,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 1,100 deaths. It is now recording more than 4,000 daily cases of the virus, which, considering the size of the population, is very high.
In June this year, Israel lifted restrictions and life in the country slowly returned to normal, however within days cases started to rise again.
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