After months and months of trying to avoid it, Israel announced this Sunday that the country must submit, starting on Friday, the 18th, and for three weeks, to a new confinement to stop the second wave of the coronavirus, which does not give truce and has led to 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 they waited with terror for the daily figures of new cases.
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 they then pointed out that they would wait to see if they came down.
Today, after overcoming the 4,000 infections in 24 hoursWith hospitals heading for saturation and the number of severe cases on the rise, lockdown finally became a reality.
In principle it will be three weeks, from September 18 to October 9 And, as happened with the closing 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 (Tabernacles).
The restrictions, very severe
During this period, the Israelis they may not travel more than 500 meters from their home —With the exception of individual sporting activities— and schools, hotels and shopping centers will remain closed.
In addition, a limit of up to 10 people in meetings in closed spaces and 20 outdoors.
Supermarkets and pharmacies may continue to operate but the rest of the stores may only carry out home delivery.
The public sector will reduce your 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,” said the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after announcing the decision.
“But only if we follow 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 agreements to establish diplomatic ties 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 which, according to local media, included shouting and cross accusations and was also marked by the resignation of the Minister of Construction and Housing, the ultra-Orthodox Yaakov Litzman.
During the debate, in addition, several ministers warned about the damage that this measure could cause to the economy.
Amir Peretz, Minister of Economy, warned that “the economic crisis is no less serious than the health crisis” and proposed to replace the confinement with a night curfew that allows businesses to continue operating during the day.
Collectives of workers also showed their rejection of this decision in recent days, including on Saturday in the usual weekly mass protest against Netanyahu that it 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 trust in the authorities and a higher unemployment rateThis time the reaction could be another and merchant associations have anticipated that they are considering not abiding by the new restrictions.
So far Israel, with some 9 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 this Sunday 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.