Israel clamps harsh restrictions as coronavirus soars near 1,000 a day
Wedding halls, bars, clubs, entertainment venues, theaters, swimming pools were ordered shut on Monday, July 6 with immediate effect by the Israel government as another full lockdown loomed. PM Binyamin Netanyahu convened the second cabinet meeting in two days as coronavirus contagion neared a thousand new cases, warning the ministers that Israel was a step away from another full lockdown.
The new restrictions leave beaches and parks open but restrict visits to certain hours under supervision. Restaurants and cafes may seat 20 diners indoors – and 30 outside. Public buses are limited to 20 passengers and must keep their windows open. Synagogue congregations are limited to 20 worshippers.
Summer schools and camps are closed except for kindergartens and first four school grades. University exams are to be conducted remotely. Ultra-Orthodox yeshivas will also remain open at the insistence of the Haredi ministers. Public events must have no more than 20 participants standing well apart.
The fine for people caught without masks has more than doubled to 500 shekels (app. $120).
As the new restrictions were published, queues began forming at the drive-through Magen David stations for coronavirus testing and at supermarkets where people reverted to stocking up on food and other essentials.
Another 816 new coronavirus cases were registered on Sunday, with 534 of the 11,856 active cases in hospital, 90 in serious condition, and 32 on ventilators. The total number of confirmed cases has passed 30,000. All these figures are rising. More than half are under 65, in contrast to the first wave of the disease when the elderly were hit hardest. The updated death toll is 332.
Of the 19,000 tests conducted since Sunday, 4.3 percent were positive. More than 25,000 Israelis are now in quarantine, a number that will rise as more members of the public undergo tests. Experts are warning that if the spread of the pandemic is not tamed in short order, the medical facilities and hospitals will very soon be seriously challenged.