Ministers will fight to dilute full lockdown over the festivals

The full cabinet will be asked on Sunday to approve a comprehensive national lockdown for at least two weeks starting on Friday, the New Year festival eve, and shut schools earlier on Wednesday. Movement will be restricted to 500m from home, synagogue prayers to 20 outdoors and all but essential facilities shut down. This all-out effort to curtail the aggressive spread of the coronavirus, demanded by the health authorities and backed by PM Binyamin Netanyahu, will cost the economy an approximate NIS20 billion (app. $5.8bn). Some ministers demand the immediate payout of compensation to the businesses facing bankruptcy, especially hotels and restaurants, as well as young parents tied down at home by care for small children. The most extreme opponent is Yakov Litzman of the United Torah List who threatens to resign as Housing Minister if a full lockdown is imposed. The closure plan is therefore likely to undergo changes before it is approved.

Sunday morning saw another 2,650 new cases, totaling 153,217, of which 37,482 were active, 495 seriously ill and 136 on ventilators. Twenty people died overnight from covid-19 or background illnesses, altogether 1,103 since the first outbreak.


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