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On Thursday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called for a full lockdown for all of Israel beginning on September 15, three days before Rosh Hashannah begins on Friday. A vote to finalize this decision will be held on Sunday. The proposed lockdown may last until the end of the holidays which will be when Simchat Torah (the last day of Sukkoth) ends on Sunday, Oct. 11.  All academic institutions and workplaces will be closed.  A ban will be in place on public and private gatherings. The holidays are normally a time for extended families to gather so the lockdown will prevent this. It also calls for the entire public sector to be placed in a “state of emergency.”

An alternative to the lockdown was proposed by the Finance Ministry, as reported by J-Post. According to the Finance Ministry, a general closure over a “holiday week” would cost the country NIS 4 billion, and closure on a full week NIS 5 billion to NIS 6 billion. The Finance Ministry proposal would allow the education system to operate as usual, except in “red cities” considered to be at high-risk. Workplaces would also continue to operate under Purple Ribbon cautionary standards. The plan does call for significant reduction in retail activity in all cities.

Full lockdown measures include:

  • Restrictions on movement to 500 meters from one’s place of residence
  • The closure of education institutions except for special education. Grade 5 and up will learn remotely during the holidays.
  • Closure of private and public sector activity. Employers are requested to resort to work from home as much as possible.
  • This will ban prayers in public spaces pursuant to an outline that will be agreed upon.
  • All restaurants will remain closed, except for delivery service. All places of recreation, businesses, commerce, and domestic tourism will be closed.

Assessments will be made based on developments and may be limited to specific regions. Limited restrictions could be:

  • Restriction on movement between cities
  • Restriction on gatherings throughout the period according to red zone restrictions of the traffic light plan
  • All restaurants will remain closed, except for delivery service. All places of recreation, businesses, commerce, and domestic tourism will be closed.
  • Closure of education institutions except for special education, throughout the period, except for remote learning for grade 5 and up. The resumption of classes after the Sukkot holiday will be evaluated according to a special assessment of the situation.
  • The public sector will be on an emergency footing.
  • Private sector – Work of 30-50% scope at places that do not receive the public (offices, factories, etc.), work from home as much as possible

The decision to lockdown comes after Israel’s Health Ministry announced Thursday night a record 4,015 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in 24 hours marking the first time that figure passed 4,000. For the past week, Israel has led the world in new coronavirus cases per capita. 487 of the cases were classified as very serious cases, out of whom 137 were placed on respirators. This brings the total number of cases to 143,049 since the start of the pandemic in March. To date, 1,055 people have died from Covid-19.


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