After months and months of trying to avoid it, Israel announced today that the country will have to undergo, as of Friday, the 18th, and for three weeks, a new confinement to stop the second wave of the coronavirus, which does not give truce and has taken to have one of the highest rates of infections in the world.
The Israeli government has been warning for weeks of the possibility of a new total shutdown. While for some it was nothing more than a threat to achieve greater social adherence to the rules of distancing, others took it more seriously and awaited the daily numbers of new cases with terror.
The health authorities warned that there would be a new confinement if the 2,000 positives per day were exceeded. They were overcome for weeks, and then they indicated that they would wait to see if they would go down.
Today, after exceeding 4,000 infections in 24 hours last week, with hospitals heading for saturation and the number of serious cases on the rise, the confinement finally became a reality.
In principle, it will be three weeks, from September 18 to October 9 and, as happened with the end of April during the Passover holiday, it will coincide with three very important religious celebrations: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (the Tabernacles).
THE RESTRICTIONS, VERY SEVERE
During this period, Israelis will not be able to travel more than 500 meters from their home – with the exception of individual sports activities – and schools, hotels and shopping centers will remain closed.
Also, a limit of up to ten people in meetings in closed spaces and 20 outdoors will be in force.
Supermarkets and pharmacies may continue to operate but the rest of the stores may only deliver home delivery.
The public sector will reduce its workers to a minimum and the private sector will be able to continue working normally but will not be allowed to receive clients.
“I know that these measures have a high cost for all of us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after announcing the decision.
“But only if we comply with the rules, and I trust that we will, we will defeat the virus,” he added, before boarding the plane that will take him to Washington to sign, on the 15th at the White House, the bonding agreements. diplomats with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
THE CABINET, DIVIDED BY CONFINEMENT
The decision to apply a new confinement was reached after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of more than seven hours that, according to local media, included shouting and crossed accusations and that was also marked by the resignation of the Minister of Construction and Housing, the ultra-Orthodox Yaakov Litzman.
During the debate, in addition, there were several ministers who warned about the damage that this measure could cause to the economy.
Amir Peretz, head of Economy, warned that “the economic crisis is no less serious that the utility “and proposed replacing the confinement with a night curfew that would allow businesses to continue operating during the day.
Workers’ groups have also shown their rejection of this decision in recent days, including yesterday in the usual weekly mass protest against Netanyahu that has been repeated for months in various parts of the country.
While the confinement applied in April was practically strictly respected by the Israeli population, after six months of the pandemic, less confidence in the authorities and a higher unemployment rate, this time the reaction could be another and merchant associations They have anticipated that they are considering not abiding by the new restrictions.
So far Israel, with about nine million inhabitants, has registered 153,759 cases of the virus, of which almost 40,000 are active and more than 500 in serious condition.
According to several experts, the measure approved today will save time but will be insufficient if it is not accompanied by an increase in the number of daily tests and greater monitoring of the chain of infections.