From the Jerusalem Post: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to dramatically increase restrictions on movement and has drafted a resolution to allow no travel except for work, food, medicines and essentials to help stop the spread of coronavirus, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.The restrictions, which were announced on Monday, will last for seven days from when the government approves them.
Existing guidelines will not change with regards to getting to and from work, and the ability to buy food, medicine or other essential products will not be limited even after the decision is approved.
The decision came after Netanyahu convened a lengthy meeting on Monday to discuss the possibility of imposing stricter restrictions on the public, shortly after the Health Ministry confirmed that coronavirus cases in Israel had climbed to 1,238 people overnight.
As this new round of restrictions rolls out, the country will introduce a massive aid program for self-employed individuals and small businesses. The plan is scheduled to be ready on Tuesday.
Moreover, the prime minister said he will implement a task force to examine how the country can further increase coronavirus testing.
Of the Israelis diagnosed with coronavirus, 1,142 had mild cases, 24 moderate cases and 24 serious ones – the highest number of seriously-ill patients in Israel to date. One person, an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, died over the weekend. To date, 37 people have recovered.
he Health Ministry reported that 351 individuals have been hospitalized and a further 120 people are taking advantage of the Defense Ministry’s three “coronavirus hotels” to recover.
Speaking to Israel’s Reshet Bet on Monday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said that the government intends to further tighten restrictions on the public.
“We will gradually move toward imposing a lockdown,” Erdan said. “Hundreds of thousands of additional people will be required not to go to work.”
Israel will ultimately be divided into quadrants, he said, and Police and the IDF will work together to monitor those areas and ensure that the closure is maintained.
“My worry is about what will happen in another week or two,” Erdan said, referring to the likely increase in coronavirus patients in the country. “I already said two weeks ago that my position is that we should issue a full two-week closure with much more extensive enforcement.”
Police reported on Monday that they have opened 135 investigations against individuals who broke quarantine and 21 against those who published fake news about the virus. Police also closed 32 businesses for not keeping to the regulations and dispersed 74 gatherings that were larger than 10 people, giving out 74 fines.
Last week, Netanyahu established further restrictions on the public, including that Israelis are not allowed to leave their homes unless “absolutely necessary.” Visiting parks, beaches, pools, libraries and museums is prohibited, as are all social interactions. “Essential” services have remained open, including supermarkets, pharmacies and most medical services. While citizens are encouraged to work from home, employees who work in “critical industries” or small offices are able to do so.
Reflecting health fears among the elderly population, the Association of Nursing Homes and Assisted Living in Israel called on Netanyahu and government ministers to implement coronavirus tests for all residents of homes where an outbreak is suspected.
The association also demanded greater protective equipment for nursing home staff, warning that limiting use of equipment to locations where a case is confirmed is likely to be “too late to prevent an outbreak of the virus.”
Despite a request by Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman on Sunday that daylight savings time be postponed by a month in order to prevent Israelis from staying out later, the National Security Council decided that implementation of the summer clock cannot be postponed, and will begin on Friday at 2 a.m. as scheduled.
The decision was made based on advice from the Israel Digital Authority that the date of transition between the winter and summer clocks is structurally defined in the operating systems of servers, computers, communications equipment and cellular phones. The authority said that to change such a system would take longer than the time available.
As of Monday at 5 p.m., the Israeli Employment Service said a total of 584,688 new applications for unemployment benefits had been submitted since the beginning of March, including almost 22,500 on Monday alone. The total unemployment rate currently stands at 17.6%, with 91% of new applications submitted by workers placed on unpaid leave.
Histradrut trade federation chairman Arnon Ben-David sent a scathing letter to Netanyahu, urging him to immediately release funds to assist the survival of struggling businesses.
“Compared to the rest of the world, the State of Israel managed to be several steps ahead when it comes to health issues, but is lagging far behind in its management of the financial crisis,” said Ben-David, calling for immediate assistance for all companies experiencing a 50% drop in turnover.
Otherwise, Ben-David said, “we will witness an economic domino effect that will continue to the door of every family in the country.” The resources that the state is refraining from giving to businesses today, he added, will later need to be invested in funding unemployment benefits and rehabilitating an economy in recession.
In order to support economic activity and ease credit conditions, the Bank of Israel said it would launch a government bond purchasing program on the secondary market totaling NIS 50 billion ($13.6b.).
The central bank said that, “economic conditions in the Israeli economy have worsened significantly” as a result of measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The bond purchases intend to enable the bank to influence bond yields in the market and lower the costs of long-term credit for firms and households.
The number of tests has continued to climb, as promised by the Health Ministry. In the last 24 hours, more than 3,200 tests were conducted. So far, four new drive-through testing centers have been established by Magen David Adom in conjunction with the ministry and at least two more are expected to open.
On Monday, members of the Arab Joint List met with MDA representatives at the Tel Aviv complex and discussed the necessity of opening a testing facility in Arab population centers. Concerns have been raised among Israeli-Arabs that they are not being tested enough.

Comments are closed.