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Israel set to enter extraordinary second lockdown as COVID-19 outbreak surges to highest levels yet

Israel is set to enter a second nationwide shutdown after a major surge in COVID-19 cases.

The country initially reopened in May, but is now set to enter its second lockdown beginning on Friday.

What are the details?

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an inner cabinet of ministers approved the latest three-week lockdown late on Sunday, which will take place during Jewish high holy days.

“The plan is subject to the final approval of the full cabinet on Sunday and faces opposition from some ministers,” Bloomberg reported.

The outlet noted that “[s]everal ultra-Orthodox lawmakers have threatened to pull out of Netanyahu’s brittle coalition if the government goes ahead with a lockdown during the holiday season, which begins Sept. 18 and lasts about three weeks.”

Cases in May reportedly rose from five confirmed infections to more than 4,000 over the last week, according to the outlet, bringing new infections per capita close to the worst levels in the world.

Reuters reported that Israelis Israelis will be required to stay within 500 meters of their homes, and can only travel to workplaces that have been previously approved to continue operations.

“Schools and shopping malls will be closed but supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open,” the news organization added. “The public sector will operate with fewer staff, but non-governmental offices and businesses will not have to close, as long as they do not accept customers.”

Additionally, indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people, with no more than 20 people congregating in one place outdoors.

“I know those measures will exact a heavy price on us all,” Netanyahu said during a televised address, according to Financial Times. “This is not the kind of holiday we are used to. And we certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Netanyahu added, “We were warned of a spike in serious cases that could result in a number of deaths we have not seen before. [T]he winter that is nearing may see seasonal flu added to the coronavirus case load so we must take steps in advance.”

What else?

At the time of this reporting, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that there have been at least 156,823 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, with at least 1,126 deaths attributed to the virus.

The outlet claimed that May’s “botched reopening of the economy” sent COVID-19 infections “soaring.”

The new shutdown could continue to devastate the economy.

According to Bloomberg, the country’s finance ministry chief on Thursday estimated that a four-week lockdown would cost the nation’s economy approximately $4.4 billion.


Israel will go back into lockdown amid a surge in COVID-19 cases

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