Rare joint statement from Netanyahu and Gantz says closure will last for at least two weeks and will include shuttering shops, entertainment venues and restricting movement from the home; schools will remain partially open for some grades

Israel will go into its third national lockdown on Sunday at 5pm to limit the soaring spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a rare joint statement Wednesday.

The lockdown will last for two weeks, but will be extended for another two if the goal of less than 1,000 new infections per day is not met. The country has seen daily infections spiral to more than 3,000 and on Tuesday saw a 5.7% positivity rate.

מחסומים ושוטרים בכניסה לבאר שבע
Police man a roadblock at the entrance to Be’er Sheva during a previous lockdown (Photo: Herzl Yosef)


Like the previous lockdown that ended in mid-October, the public will be restricted from traveling no more than one kilometer from their homes and banned from entering residences in which they do not live; trade and entertainment venues will be closed; restaurants will only be able to provide food deliveries; non-public facing businesses will be able to operate at 50% capacity; public transport will operate at 50% of the usual schedule; and social gatherings will be restricted to 20 people in an open air location and 10 people indoors.

Unlike the previous two lockdowns, the schools will remain partially open to students, with kindergartens, grades 1-4 and 11-12 attending classes in person from 8am to 1pm while special ed classes will continue unchanged. Parents will be able to leave their children at school between 7am and 2pm.

The transfer of children between two parents who do not live together will also continue uninterrupted.

בני גנץ ובנימין נתניהו
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: AP)


Gantz and Netanyahu made the decision during talks Wednesday evening attended by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Science Minister Izhar Shay and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The decision must still be approved by the cabinet in a meeting set to take place before Friday evening.

Coronavirus czar Prof. Nachman Ash said earlier Wednesday that a third, nationwide lockdown was “inevitable.”

Ash said Israel would have “another 3,000 dead” from the pathogen in the next two months if the government did not implement tough health measures as soon as possible.

“It should be understood, there is no escape from another lockdown,” he said. “If they [the government] had acted in accordance with our recommendations two weeks ago, it could have been avoided.”

נחמן אש
Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash (Photo: Tal Shahar)


The professor said the infection rate had risen significantly, including serious cases, and would skyrocket further in the coming weeks if the government continues with its “sit and do nothing” policy.

“So far, our forecasts have been accurate, let’s not endanger public health. Help us reduce the infection,” Ash said.

As reported by Ynetnews