Israel imposes new weekend restrictions to fight coronavirus spread

Israel imposes new weekend restrictions to fight coronavirus spread
2 min read
Israel announced on Friday that it was imposing weekend restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Coronavirus has hit Israel [Getty]

Israel's government said on Friday it was imposing weekend restrictions to limit the spiralling spread of coronavirus in the hope of avoiding a general lockdown further along the line.

From 5:00pm local time (1400 GMT) on Friday restaurants and gyms would be closed until 5:00am on Sunday, a joint statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and the health ministry said.

Gatherings of more than 10 people in closed spaces and 20 in the open air, excluding approved workplaces and nuclear families, will also be banned.

These measures will take effect immediately and apply every weekend until further notice, the statement said.

However, "there will be no restriction on leaving one's home," it added.

Friday evening is the start of the Jewish sabbath, when many restaurants close, while Sunday is the start of the Israeli working week.

The statement said that the new steps were "to prevent a general lockdown in light of the sharp increase in the morbidity of the coronavirus."

Israel won praise for its initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak, but the government has come under criticism amid a resurgence in cases after lockdown measures were lifted.

The country of some nine million people had recorded 46,059 confirmed cases by Thursday night, including 384 dead.

"During the weekend, stores, malls, open-air markets, hair salons/barbershops, beauty parlours, libraries, petting zoos, museums and display spaces, pools, tourist attractions and cable cars shall be closed," the statement also said.

As Israel moves into high summer, with average daily temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above, the statement said that beaches would be closed at weekends from July 24.

"Violation of any of the above restrictions shall constitute a criminal offence," the statement said.

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