As 65,000 people were vaccinated against the coronavirus on Wednesday, rising infections across the country led the Israeli government into deciding another national lockdown- this time for two weeks starting Sunday.
In the early hours of Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Health Ministry announced a third national lockdown that is set to take effect on Sunday in order to curb a resurgence of COVID-19. As per the announcement, the new lockdown will begin Sunday at 5 p.m. and last for at least two weeks. The restrictions will be extended for an additional two weeks if morbidity rates do not decrease significantly.
According to the joint statement from Netanyahu and the Health Ministry, the government had agreed to the restrictions “in principle,” but the full list of regulations was still awaiting final approval from government ministers. Finalizing the rules on Thursday, the country will now bar Israelis from entering another person’s home, except for immediate family members; restrict movement to 1 kilometer from home, with exceptions, such as for vaccinations; shut down commerce, leisure, and entertainment; limit public transportation to 50 percent capacity, and limit workplaces that do not deal with customers face-to-face to 50% capacity. Restaurants will be allowed to deliver, but takeaway orders will be banned. Gatherings will be restricted to 20 people outdoors and 10 indoors, and individual sports activities, such as jogging, will be allowed.
Almost all of the restrictions of the September lockdown will be duplicated in the new one, except the education system, which will continue to function, with some restrictions. Kindergarten, grades 1-4, and grades 11-12 will hold classes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents will be able to drop their children off at 7 a.m. and pick them up at 2 p.m. Special education programs will continue as usual.
Furthermore, the new lockdown will end the so-called “green islands” program, which allowed travelers free rein in the tourist areas of Eilat and the Dead Sea. According to the statement, the lockdown will be extended by two weeks, to a month in total, if the number of daily infections remains above 1,000 and the viral basic reproduction number remains above one. The basic reproduction number is the average number of people each virus carrier infects.