Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will continue to operate as usual.

An ICEJ volunteer nurse caring for a Holocaust survivor in Haifa amid the Coronavirus crisis. (photo credit: ICEJ)
An ICEJ volunteer nurse caring for a Holocaust survivor in Haifa amid the Coronavirus crisis. (photo credit: ICEJ)


Israelis will no longer have freedom of movement after the government approved a set of new restrictions passed overnight Tuesday by the government that forbid the public from walking more than 100 meters from home to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

Additional restrictions, according to the Prime Minister’s Office: Public transportation will be significantly reduced, and may only be used for approved purposes, food delivery and essential house maintenance services will be allowed to operate but there will be no takeaway.

Supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will continue to operate as usual.
The new restrictions will go into effect on Wednesday night.
The government met for six hours before approving these changes, the same night that two Israelis died of the novel coronavirus, raising Israel’s death toll from the pandemic rose to three.

Some 1,930 Israelis have been diagnosed with coronavirus as of Tuesday night, the Health Ministry reported. Thirty-four were in serious condition.

About 6% of people tested are infected with coronavirus, according to the Health Ministry, which wants a complete lockdown. The Finance Ministry has said if a full closure is implemented, the economy would not recover.

A draft of the new restrictions, which were expected to be approved overnight Tuesday, included additional measures such as that leisure activities will be allowed within walking distance but sporting events will be forbidden, and that while existing guidelines regarding travel to and from work would not change, companies would be allowed to check their employees’ temperatures before letting them enter the building.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night told the cabinet 10,000 Israelis could die from the coronavirus and 1,000,000 could be infected.

“We could reach a million infected within a month,” he said, N12 reported. “There could also be 10,000 dead Israelis.”

Netanyahu instructed Mossad Director Yossi Cohen to lead a new National Emergency Team that will orchestrate efforts to purchase medical equipment, especially ventilators, that will be needed to treat patients. In addition, he instructed the Israeli Defense Industries to examine options to manufacture the medical equipment here.

Penalties being considered for breaking these orders would be up to six months in prison or fines as high as NIS 3,000.

The Health Ministry guidelines have stung the economy, pushing Israel’s unemployment rate to 19%.

The Israeli Employment Service said some 633,939 people applied for unemployment benefits in March, including 18,105 people between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

According to Bank of Israel estimates published on Tuesday, current measures to contain the novel coronavirus are likely to result in an unemployment rate of approximately 7%, an increase of 150,000 people, by the end of 2020.

“We must help individuals whose company or turnover has been impacted, and they must continue to meet their ongoing expenses,” Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said. “We also need to help those who have been made redundant or have been placed on unpaid leave, and their income has been affected dramatically. This is what governments around the world are doing and on a huge scale.”

Meanwhile, most infected people have mild cases of the virus – 1,795 – and another 45 are in moderate condition, the Health Ministry reported.

The man who died on Monday had been brought to Hadassah-University Medical Center from the Nofim Geriatric Center, where he lived. Shortly before news of his death, the second coronavirus patient who died was identified as Malka Kever, 67, from Bat Yam. She died at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. She had preexisting conditions.

“Our intensive care team fought for her life with great dedication, but her condition deteriorated,” the hospital said.

Kever was patient No. 445. She had previously volunteered at the hospital where she died, until she was diagnosed with cancer in the last year, N12 reported.

Her family members, who are in isolation, called on the public to “stay home.”

“Don’t go out, you risk yourself, your children, your relatives and people you don’t know,” Kever’s daughter, Dorit, told N12. “My mother gave her life, gave her soul to the Creator because of this illness. We are hurting, we are sad.”

The man in his 60s who died Monday at Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital) in Tel Aviv and was suspected of having coronavirus had not contracted the disease, the hospital reported. Test results revealed that the man had respiratory symptoms and his death, as determined by the hospital, was probably from a different viral disease.

In a related development, a premature baby at the prenatal ward of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem was reported on Tuesday as not having had the novel coronavirus after it was earlier reported that a worker of the ward was infected with the virus and might have infected him. All the premature babies in the ward were found not to have the virus, and the hospital is working alongside the Health Ministry to proceed with removing the workers of the ward out of quarantine per the regulations.

Some 53 people have recovered from the virus.

So far, more than 135,000 Israelis have spent time in quarantine. The Health Ministry said 71,029 are in isolation now, including another member of the government.

Diaspora Affairs Minister Tzipi Hotovely became the latest MK to enter home quarantine on Tuesday, bringing the number up to eight. Hotovely came in contact with a deputy director-general of her ministry who was later diagnosed with the virus. She will need to be quarantined until April 1.

Hotovely is the sixth MK from Netanyahu’s right-center bloc in quarantine, joining ministers Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), Arye Deri (Shas), Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) and Shas MKs Itzik Cohen and Moshe Abutbul. The only quarantined MKs from the left-center bloc are Alon Shuster and Ran Ben-Barak.

The number of infected people is expected to climb as Israel conducts more coronavirus tests. In the last 24 hours, more than 3,700 people were screened. On Monday, Magen David Adom opened up three more drive-through testing complexes in Jerusalem, Beersheba and Haifa.

In total, according to the ministry, 27,054 tests had been taken by Tuesday morning.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post