Israel to Implement New Coronavirus Curfew the Week of Hanukkah

Israeli border police patrol the main market before Israel will enter a second nationwide lockdown amid a resurgence in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, forcing residents to stay mostly at home during the Jewish high-holiday season, in Jerusalem September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel is heading toward a night curfew beginning on Wednesday, after the coronavirus cabinet approved the move late Monday night.

The government is expected to ratify the decision on Tuesday, including the details of the curfew. This will include its start and end dates, what time in the evening it will begin and what time in the morning it will be lifted, as well as any other restrictions that will be involved.

What is confirmed is that essential services will remain open during the curfew.

In addition, the cabinet approved keeping malls and marketplaces open in accordance with the rules of the pilot – except in red cities – and maintaining the education system. The cabinet also approved the continuation of the “green islands” program in Eilat and the Dead Sea.

“I am pleased to announce that the coronavirus cabinet today approved the continuation of the outline of green tourist islands in Eilat and the Dead Sea, after I presented data on its success,” said Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen. “It is a balanced and special plan that allows us to live alongside the coronavirus and that provides a livelihood for thousands of workers.”

Careful, limited activity in the country’s museums and at cultural events will be allowed, in accordance with agreements made between the Health and Culture and Sport ministries.

In addition, coronavirus testing will be required for all people who return to the country from abroad, and especially for those arriving from red countries. Anyone who is not tested will be required to enter a coronavirus hotel.

Also, public transportation occupancy will be reduced, though the announcement released by the Prime Minister’s Office following the meeting did not indicate by how much. Steps will also be taken to increase fines and step-up enforcement.

“These are all just excuses that will have little effect,” a top professional at the meeting told The Jerusalem Post after the cabinet voted to implement this plan. “They are aimed at justifying opening malls, markets, museums and culture events. The government has decided to relieve major restrictions, which will fuel the current outbreak and lead to the next lockdown.”

The idea of a night curfew was rolled out by Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of the National Security Council (NSC), and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Interior Minister Arye Deri refused to participate in the cabinet vote on the curfew because all its details had not been panned out, saying that voting in favor would make him a “rubber stamp.”

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SOURCE: The Jerusalem Post, Maayan Joffe-Hoffman

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