Israelis taking drastic measures as the number of cases of coronavirus soars; banning malls, cafés, mens’ mikvaos and any indoor gathering of over 10 people.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced on Motzei Shabbos that the government is imposing a partial shutdown of the economy. Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and gas stations will remain open but non-essential businesses will be closed.
“Places of entertainment” such as malls, coffee shops, gyms, restaurants and simcha halls will be closed as of Sunday morning and gatherings of over 10 people should be avoided. Whoever doesn’t need to travel to work or other locations should remain at home. Pre-schools and daycare centers are also closing as of Sunday morning. Public transportation will be reduced.
Only essential workers should travel to work with non-essential employees working from home. However, at this stage, decisions regarding which employees are essential will be left to individual CEOs.
Everyone out in public should maintain a distance of two meters between each person (6.5 feet) including at workplaces. Seventy percent of government employees will be asked to work from home. Small workplaces with up to 10 employees will be allowed to remain open.
In a letter sent to heads of religious councils around Israel, the Ministry of Religion ordered all mens’ mikvaos closed starting from Sunday, based on doctors orders and after consultation with Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef.
Netanyahu stressed that Israel is now in a fight for life and public health, adding that Israel’s situation is one of the best of the world due to the early restrictions the government imposed, which other governments are only now implementing.
Netanyahu added that the government will be using digital means which have been used to fight terrorism to reveal details about patients diagnosed with the virus, such as whom they were in contact with. The prime minister added that the Justice Ministry has approved this measure despite the imposition on privacy of Israeli citizens.
Israel Police will enforce the closure of public places as well as transport restrictions.
Discussions were held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Motzei Shabbos with the participation of the finance, health, defense, economy and public security ministers, the governor of the Bank of Israel, the heads of the National Security Council, the Police Commissioner and other top government officials.
Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Motzei Shabbos that there are a total of 195 people in Israel who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
A total of 31 patients with mild symptoms are being treated at home and the rest have been hospitalized, with three in serious condition and eleven in moderate condition. Four Israelis have recovered from the virus and have been released to their homes.
Israel is reportedly lacking sufficient coronavirus tests and Israel’s security organizations, including the Mossad, are working to obtain more tests, a Channel 12 News report said on Motzei Shabbos.
The IDF announced that soldiers should return to their bases on Sunday and be prepared to remain on their bases for up to 30 days without leave.
Also, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett held meetings over the weekend about steps that would be implemented if the government declares a state of emergency, including establishing three mass isolation facilities in the north, the south and center of the country to replace self-quarantine at home. The facilities will be managed by the IDF, the Home Front Command and the Health Ministry.
Earlier, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov called to the public not to storm the supermarkets. as Israelis took advantage of the end of their workweek to empty supermarket shelves.
“Citizens of Israel, the supermarkets will remain open, period,” said Siman-Tov. “There’s no point in storming them…in every possible scenario, the supermarkets will remain open. I ask the public to act responsibly and heed the instructions of the authorities.”
The Prime Minister’s Office stated: “The food establishments in Israel will continue to work as usual. The food chains have large inventories and food imports to Israel will continue…there is no need or justification for storing food.”