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Israel braces for second coronavirus lockdown and muted new year celebrations

Israel is prepping for another covid-19 lockdown [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 September, 2020

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Israelis are getting ready for a second coronavirus lockdown, which comes during new year celebrations



Israel is set to enter a second lockdown on Friday after a surge of Covid-19 new cases, after the country closed schools on Thursday in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Daily infections in Israel recently rose above 5,000 a day. 

The country’s first lockdown occurred during the beginning of Covid-19 in March and eased off in May, when caseloads dropped to 20-a-day.

Some Israeli leaders conceded that they had eased restrictions prematurely, whilst others disagreed with the lockdown on economic grounds.

"I strongly oppose lockdown. I feel like this is a mistake by the government I voted for, and I think that our freedoms and economy are destroyed by this decision," Jerusalem resident David Khosid said.

Authorities plan for the lockdown to last three weeks and will take place around the same time as the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, and will mean families will have to stay at home and abstain from visiting one another during that time.

Israelis must stay within 500 metres of their homes with the exception of work commutes, essential shopping and exercise.

Workplaces will also be operating on a limited basis and there will be social distancing measures in synagogues.

“It’s mostly frustrating that we can’t do the holidays in a reasonable way, with friends and family,” resident Alexandra Gelman told Reuters.

Hundreds of Israelis protested the lockdown in Tel Aviv, as Israel has registered more than 172,000 coronavirus cases with 1,163 deaths, out of a population of nine million.

"The economy is in free-fall, people are losing their jobs, they're depressed," said Yael, one of between 300 and 400 demonstrators in the coastal city of Tel Aviv.

"And all this for what? For nothing!" said the 60-year-old former employee of an architectural firm who lost her job in the crisis.

Israel had initially been widely praised for curbing the spread of the Covid-19 disease by imposing a stringent lockdown in March, but authorities have acknowledged that they were too quick to ease restrictions subsequently.

On the eve of the renewed lockdown, which was announced last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on nationwide television to try to explain the government had no choice.

"The health system has raised the red flag... We did everything we could to strike a balance between the (public) health needs and needs of the economy," the embattled premier said on Thursday.

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