After a tense meeting of more than seven hours, the Israeli government has approved the imposition of another total confinement in the country that will last three weeks. The debate has even led to the resignation of the Minister of Construction and Housing, Yakov Litzman, who disagreed because the measure will prevent Jews from going to synagogues.
However, due to the alarming increase in cases – last week Israel exceeded 150,000 infections– The government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has given its approval to the proposal of the special cabinet created to manage the coronavirus.
Confinement will start on friday at two in the afternoon and, among the measures, are: the closure of schools, prohibition of citizens from going out more than 500 meters from their home and the closure of all non-essential businesses, reported The Jerusalem Post.
In addition to the economic cost of the confinement, the Israeli government wanted to avoid the closure by all means because it will coincide with important Jewish holidays such as: the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur or Day of Repentance.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, and coronavirus commissioner Professor Ronni Gamzu have addressed the nation to give an account of the Executive’s decision.
The schools They will continue to operate until Friday, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, even though they originally called for them to be closed from Wednesday. Netanyahu said the school system will be closed for at least two weeks and then the government will consider opening nursery and primary schools, depending on the infection rate.
Private workplaces are expected to continue to function, at least those that are essential, which are allowed to open their doors, or can continue thanks to teleworking. For its part, the administration will establish a scheme with the measures for the public system in the coming days.
Although it has not yet materialized, the Israeli media have reported that it is most likely that Ben-Gurion airport stay open. According The Jerusalem Post, the decision will be made on Monday by a committee headed by Transport Minister Miri Regev.
Reestablishing confinement has generated many divisions within Netanyahu’s government, made up of 30 ministries and various political parties, and some members of his Executive have voted against the measure. The Minister of Water, Ze’ev Elkin, stated that “although the final decision of the government underwent significant changes during the discussion, I was forced to vote against it, because no clear criteria or deadlines were established to end the closure “.
Several reproached the Health Minister for not having done enough to stop the spread of the virus. Some such as the Minister of Science and Technology, Izhar Shay (of the Blue and White party), and the Minister of Economy, Amir Peretz (Labor), fought against the closure, ensuring that the damage to the Israeli economy it will be too severe for the country to recover.
Finance Minister Israel Katz said difficult decisions were being made because the Health Ministry “did not do its job correctly”, warning that the closure will cost NIS 6.5 billion to the country’s economy.
Increase in cases
At the beginning of the pandemic, Israel was one of the countries that took the most drastic measures. For example, on February 22, and after learning of the first case of coronavirus in the country, of a passenger who had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Japan, the entry of any citizen of South Korea was prohibited and Japan and imposed 14-day quarantines on Israelis who had been in these countries in the previous two weeks.
Less than a week later, it expanded the list to China, Thailand, Singapore, Spain and Italy. At the beginning of March, it completely closed its borders to any visitor from another country unless they could prove that they could remain in isolation for 14 days, in a hotel or in a private home.
TO mid-March decreed a partial shutdown of the economy and from late March to mid-April, the country was confined. Afterwards, a de-escalation similar to that followed by European countries was carried out, in which the economy was reopened little by little.
But at the end of June there was talk of a second wave of Covid and, although restrictive measures were reimposed such as the closure of beaches and some businesses (open air markets, shopping centers, beauty salons, hairdressers, gyms … among others), or the night curfew to avoid total confinement, infections have not stopped rising .
This Sunday, while the meeting to decide on the confinement was being held, 2,715 new positives and 1,108 deaths were registered. The Jerusalem Post reported that a new record for numbers of critically ill patients was also reached with 513.
This new confinement also comes at a critical time for Netanyahu, who took office in the midst of a pandemic and after having held three elections in less than a year. Thousands of people have been demonstrating in the streets for weeks to ask for his resignation for his management of the coronavirus, as well as the corruption cases for which he is being tried.