“In the circumstances that were created, we had no choice,” said Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein as the government approved Sunday the decision to impose a three-week lockdown from Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot, after a meeting that lasted more than seven hours. The closure passed despite many ministers expressing opposition to the plan the coronavirus cabinet passed last week to help stop the spread of the novel virus.
The closure will go into effect at 2 p.m. next Friday and last until October 9.
During the lockdown, the school system will remain closed, except for special education and programs for at-risk youth. People will not be able to venture more than 500 meters from home. Restaurants, shopping centers and businesses that offer leisure and recreational activities will be shut down.
The Health Minister said that if Israelis do not keep the rules, “all of this will be for nothing.” But if the rules are kept, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel” and the chains of infection could be cut, he added.
“We need the public’s cooperation,” he said.
A report published Sunday by the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center stressed that ”the hospitals’ safety net has been significantly reduced, which creates a danger to the stability of the healthcare system.”
Furthermore, the number of serious patients is increasing, which puts the country’s hospitals at risk, the report said, noting that the number of serious patients in the hospitals has increased by 51 in the last two weeks.
At the same time, the Health Ministry reported another day of high infection: Some 2,715 people tested positive on Saturday. Israel reached a record high number of patients in serious condition with 513 patients, 139 of whom are intubated. The death toll stands at 1,108.
Before the cabinet meeting, Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) announced that he is resigning from the coalition because, he said, the government’s intentions to impose a full lockdown on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur ‘’will prevent hundreds of thousands of Jews from all communities and sectors from praying in synagogues.’’
A month-long coronavirus lockdown will cost the Israeli economy between NIS 15 and 20 billion ($4.3 to $5.7 billion), the finance ministry said over the weekend.