Israel Lockdown in Mamilla Mall
10-14-2020 CBN News Emily Jones
JERUSALEM, Israel – Just one day before Israel’s nationwide lockdown was set to expire, government leaders unanimously decided Tuesday evening to extend the closure until at least Sunday, Oct. 18.
The government’s so-call “Corona Cabinet” agreed that the number of Israel’s daily cases is still too high for the country to end the lockdown. The reported threshold for easing virus restrictions is no more than 2,000 new cases per day. Israel is still above that threshold and the Health Ministry reported Wednesday morning that there were 2,255 new infections the day before.
Only 5.4% of the 41,536 tests conducted Tuesday came back positive. Israel has seen a dramatic drop in test positivity rate since the country’s second lockdown began about a month ago. That number lingered around 15% in late September.
Government ministers will meet again on Thursday to discuss lifting some restrictions “including the opening next week of small businesses that do not receive the public, kindergartens, and take-out,” the Prime Minister’s Office and Health Ministry said in a joint statement. The leaders also voted to allow small weddings and professional athletes to resume training.
The Israeli government has severely restricted citizens’ freedom of movement to bring down the country’s infection rate. The lockdown was slated to end on Wednesday. The government is currently banning people from traveling more than about a half a mile away from their properties, and they can only leave for essential items like food and medicine.
Virtually all businesses have been ordered to close, but restaurants are allowed to do deliveries.
The Health Ministry has a lockdown exit plan consisting of several stages. According to the plan, the government would slowly give Israelis slowly more freedoms to move, work, and go to school over a period of four months. However, those restrictions could snap back if infection rates rise again.
Government leaders are divided over the plan, with some arguing that the lockdown is not justified and is doing irreparable harm to Israeli businesses.
An alliance of Israeli retailers representing more than 18,000 stores across the country have threatened to defy government restrictions and reopen on October 18 in an effort to salvage their businesses.
More than 297,000 Israelis have been infected with the virus out of a country of approximately 9 million. More than 80% of the population has recovered. More than 2,055 people have died.
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