Israel's PM announces second nationwide lockdown

Israel's PM announces second nationwide lockdown

The country, which managed to deal effectively with the first wave of infections in the Spring through a tough national lockdown, has seen its daily case rate surge with over 4,100 infections recorded on September 12.

Addressing Israelis on TV right after the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government's decision came after medical experts raised the alarm over the high numbers of people infected with the coronavirus and over the growing number of seriously ill patients.

He said: "Our goal is to stop the increase (in cases) and lower morbidity".

With lockdown starting on the eve of the Jewish New Year, the PM said, "These are not the holidays we are used to".

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox are also expected to defy the lockdown, gathering for mass holiday prayers in overcrowded conditions, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

The anti-coronavirus measures will restrict gatherings to no more than 10 people indoors and 20 outdoors.

Schools, dining establishments (other than shipment), and home entertainment places will all close, as well as other organizations, for a preliminary duration of 3 weeks.

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Israel has had more than 150,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 1,100 deaths.

"I know those measures will exact a heavy price on us all", Netanyahu said during a televised address, according to Financial Times.

Earlier on Sunday, Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party resigned in protest of the lockdown's timing, which he said was an affront to Israel's Jews.

An Israeli cabinet minister tendered his resignation on Sunday in protest at a looming coronavirus lockdown that he argued would unfairly impede religious celebrations of Jewish holidays.

Lauding the peace treaties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to be signed on Tuesday, Netanyahu stated that the cooperation with the two Arab countries would be a boon to the economies of all three, each of which had been dealt a blow by the pandemic. Schools and shopping malls will be closed, while supermarkets will remain open.

It is now seeing more than 4,000 daily cases of the virus.

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