Middle East

Israel is going into a second nationwide lockdown over Covid-19

Schools, restaurants (except delivery), and entertainment venues will all close, as well as other businesses, for an initial period of three weeks. The public sector will operate with a limited workforce, while private sector businesses can operate as long as non-employees do not enter the workspace. People will be required to stay within 500 meters of their home. Emergency services, as well as pharmacies and food stores will remain open. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 20 people, while indoor gatherings will be limited to ten. Restrictions will be eased once Israel records a sharp decline in infection rates, though no number has been put on what might constitute such a decline.The second lockdown was announced on Sunday evening. At a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Netanyahu said the country's coronavirus czar had raised "a red flag regarding the ability of the health system to handle the challenges that are upon us, and [thus] the need to take the necessary steps as a result." Netanyahu announced the lockdown after coronavirus cases surged last week, hitting a record of 4,217 new cases in 24 hours on Thursday, the third day in a row with more than 4,000 new cases recorded. The number of patients in serious condition has also steadily climbed, reaching a high of 513 serious cases and 138 on ventilators as of Saturday. The soaring numbers appeared to leave Israeli leaders with few choices to try to regain control of a virus that had at one point seemed almost fully contained. Back in April, Netanyahu boasted that Israel had shown the world how to contain coronavirus and he hoped it would show the world how to restart an economy emerging from lockdown. Now Israel is possibly the first country in the world to impose a second general lockdown because of a resurgence of infections. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein warned Sunday, "There is now no escape from a closure. We brought a proposal [for closure]. I truly will not be happy when it is approved. This is a very difficult day for the country. But it's a proposal with no other alternative." Even so, the general closure, which was approved by the coronavirus cabinet last week, still sparked a debate within the government, with some ministers opposed to a full lockdown. Earlier in the day Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who leads one of the ultra-Orthodox parties and served as Health Minister during Read More – Source