Jan 5, 2021 - World

Israel tightens COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

Photo of a masked healthcare worker speaking with two masked Arab Israeli woman in a hospital waiting room
Despite launching one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world, Israel has had to counter a spike in new COVID cases in recent weeks. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

Israel will impose new restrictions in its countrywide lockdown, closing schools and nonessential businesses beginning Friday to combat surging cases of the coronavirus, government ministers voted Tuesday.

The big picture: Israel’s COVID-19 cases, which dropped in October, have jumped to more than 5,000 reported daily in the new year, Johns Hopkins University data shows. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the public Tuesday to heed new restrictions as a faster-spreading variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. multiplies.

Details: Israel is facing its third national lockdown, which started last week, but health officials have called for more restrictive measures, the Times of Israel reports.

  • The latest rules, effective for at least two weeks, will close workplaces except for essential services, restrict travel to a 1-kilometer radius from peoples' homes and limit gatherings to five people indoors and 10 outdoors.
  • Schools other than special education institutions will close.
  • Individuals who have not already purchased plane tickets to travel abroad during the lockdown will not be permitted to fly, per the prime minister's office.

What they’re saying: "We see the coronavirus running amok around the world," Netanyahu said. "The British mutation is out of control."

  • "The Health Ministry and the experts are warning us that we are in an emergency situation and that if we do not act immediately we will lose many hundreds of Israelis — and even more — who will die. We must not allow this to happen, certainly not at the finish line."

Of note: Israel currently leads the world in coronavirus vaccinations.

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