Israel tightened measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic, Thursday, as the first week of a complete lockdown in the country approaches, and has failed so far to reduce the highest rate of virus transmission in the world, according to the population.
The new measures include closing most workplaces and markets and more restrictions on the performance of prayers and gatherings.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Thursday at the start of a cabinet meeting to approve the new measures, “We heard in the last two days from experts that if we do not take immediate harsh steps, we will reach the bottom of the abyss”.
The new measures come at a time when the country is preparing to enter the second week of a total closure scheduled for three weeks, which began last Friday, including school closures and restrictions on professional and recreational activities.
Under the new restrictions that Parliament is expected to pass on Thursday, synagogues will not be allowed to open except on the Jewish Day of “Atonement”, which begins Sunday afternoon.
In normal times, it is only permissible to pray in the open air with a maximum of 20 people attending.
The same measures are applied to demonstrations as well.
“In order to save the lives of our citizens, we must impose a complete closure for two weeks,” Netanyahu said.
This is also necessary for the sake of the economy”.
Those who think that it is possible to work with a raging pandemic and high deaths and injuries without affecting the economy are mistaken”.
A decision may be taken on the closure of Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday as well.
Israel has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection in the world relative to the population, according to an AFP census in the past two weeks.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, 6,808 new cases of corona were recorded on Wednesday.
In total, more than 200,000 new cases of the Coronavirus were recorded, which led to 1,335 deaths, while the country’s population is nine million.
The head of the Doctors Syndicate for the Health of the Israeli Public, Hagai Levin, pointed the finger of the accusation that Israel reached at the level of Coronavirus, at the Prime Minister, for easing the restrictions that were imposed.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the public to go out and listen to their time as soon as the number of cases decreased,” said Levin, who is a member of the committee to follow up on the anti-Coronavirus issue in Israel.
He added, “This is a mistake.
Dealing with the current epidemic is like a race, as we have to keep up with developments all the time”.
Levin believes that Netanyahu’s decisions regarding the Coronavirus issue were based on “political thought”, not “professional reasoning,” and thus its consequences hurt everyone.
According to Levine, “you lose the confidence of the public when there is no plan and logic”.
Levin warned against opening synagogues during Yom Kippur because that would accelerate the spread of the virus, adding that this step would lead to “total destruction”.
Netanyahu has faced intense criticism from opposition politicians, who accuse him of tightening restrictions to end weeks of protests outside his Jerusalem residence.
Ayelet Shaked, a Knesset member for the far-right Yameenah party, said in a statement that the new restrictions were “destructive and irrational”.
“Because of the demonstrations, they are pushing hundreds of thousands of people into unemployment and crushing the economy,” she added.
Shaked confirmed that she would press to change the measures when presented to a parliamentary committee for approval later Thursday.
Some hospitals are unable to absorb injuries, while some patients have to wait for hours in ambulances, according to the emergency medical service.