image Photo: Flash90

Strict COVID-19 lockdown set in Israel

Israel’s Coronavirus Cabinet approved the enforcement of a nationwide lockdown for the upcoming Jewish Holy Holy Days.

The three-week closure will start on 18 September 2:00 PM on the Eve of the Rosh Hashanah New Year, and remain in effect until 11 October on the final day of the Sukkot Feast of Tabernacles festival.

There may be an extension of the closure dependent upon the situation assessment of the country’s morbidity rate at that time, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a televised address.

The restrictions include a ban on citizens traveling more than 500 meters from their homes. Gatherings and prayer services will be limited to ten in closed spaces, up to 20 permitted in outdoor areas. Schools will remain closed with the exception of special education and boarding facilities. Workplaces observing the restrictions will be allowed to continue operations, although malls, stores, hotels, swimming pools and gyms will once again be forced to shut downe. Restaurants will be limited to serving only takeaway and delivery orders.

“I know those measures will exact a heavy price on us all,” said the Israeli leader, explaining that, “this is not the kind of holiday we are used to. And we certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”

After acknowledging the economic ramifications expected to affect “business owners and others,” Prime Minister Netanyahu further revealed that he instructed Finance Minister Yisrael Katz to draft another financial aid package for those who are directly impacted by the impending nationwide lockdown.

The Israeli leader concluded his address with recitation of a prayer read during the annual New Year celebration on the Hebrew calendar, “Our Heavenly Father our King, prevent the plague from Your lands. Who will give and our prayer will be fulfilled.”