Israel has announced a second COVID-19 lockdown to help contain the virus as the nation readies itself for the Jewish new year next weekend.
Set to begin Friday and continue for at least three weeks according to sources, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly said the lockdown will “exact a heavy price on us all.”
In response, one government minister, Yaakov Litzman, has resigned in protest, even at a time Israel’s total infection count tops 153,000 with daily numbers of new cases now jumping to 4,000.
To date, 1,108 Israeli’s have died as a direct result of the virus.
The former Housing Minister, Litzman is head of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party, and resigned to protest the fact that Jewish people would now not be able to celebrate religious activities including Yom Kippur – one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar.
Speaking to the nation of nine million in a televised address yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu included measures in his lockdown that will limit the size of groups meeting both indoors and outdoors, in addition to limiting the distance travelled – from home – to just 500 metres.
Exceptions exist for those travelling to work.
Companies can remain open but if not working for the government, are not permitted to accept customers, although this does not apply to chemists and supermarkets.
Addressing the concerns of those looking forward to the new year celebrations, Mr. Netanyahu said “This is not the kind of holiday we are used to. And we certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”
The nation’s finance ministry in Tel Aviv says the lockdown will hit Israel’s economy to the tune of 6.5bn shekels (around US$1.88 billion).