One network defines new guidelines as 'voluntary lockdown'

In partial lockdown, Israelis told not to leave home unless necessary

As country edges closer to full closure, Health Ministry instructs: Avoid beaches, parks, minimize social contact, reduce funeral participants to bare minimum

Workers disinfect the Bar Kol Supermarket in Safed, March 16, 2020, as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Workers disinfect the Bar Kol Supermarket in Safed, March 16, 2020, as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Health Ministry has instructed Israelis not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. The announcement Tuesday afternoon was part of a package of further sweeping and dramatic new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and brings Israel a step closer to a full closure.

The public was instructed not to go out to parks, playgrounds, the beach, pools, libraries, museums or other public places, the ministry said. Exceptions were permissible for taking out children and pets — in accordance with instructions for maintaining hygiene and limiting social contact.

Among other measures: suspension of elective surgeries, cancellation of non-urgent dental treatments, and an instruction for deliveries to be left outside customers’ doors.

Police were not currently being asked to enforce these instructions, Hebrew media said. Rather, the public was expected to obey them.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 8, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Channel 12 news defined the new instructions as a government call for a “voluntary lockdown.”

“These aren’t simple instructions. We are asking you to minimize as much as possible leaving your home,” Health Ministry director general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said in a video message. But, he said, “Anywhere you visit could have a sick person present, who could infect you. You yourself may be sick and not know it, and infect other people.”

The announcement in full is as follows:

1. Do not leave home except when absolutely necessary (for work, in accordance with restrictions set out below and in accordance with separately published regulations regarding purchase of groceries and medicines, medical services and other essential services).

2. Do not leave home to go to parks, playgrounds, the beach, pool, libraries, museums, nature reserves and parks or other public spaces, except with children in a family framework or with a pet (by yourself).

3. Do not hold classes and extracurricular activities, not even with a minimal number of participants, including [in] sports classes and gyms. This regulation applies to both private and public classes and extracurricular activities. Sporting activities may be held in a group of up to 5 people on condition that a distance of two meters is maintained between them.

4. Social connections should be maintained by remote communication. Avoid hosting friends and family who do not reside in your home.

5. Guidelines for at-risk populations.. The following should all avoid leaving their homes as far as is possible and hosting people at home, except for essential services: the elderly and people of any age with severe chronic diseases; sufferers of long-term respiratory illnesses including asthma; autoimmune diseases; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; immune system disorders and conditions; malignant illnesses. Seek assistance from friends and family to bring supplies.

6. Reduce the need to leave home by employing the following means:

  • Remote work, video calls and conferencing.
  • Every employer must ensure a distance of two meters between employees is maintained and ensure personal and environmental hygiene rules are also maintained.
  • Delivery services — only as far as the doorstep.
  • Dental Care — It is recommended to postpone all treatments and perform only absolutely necessary and emergency treatments.
  • If you do need to leave the house when absolutely necessary (see section 1) – reduce contact with people and maintain a distance of 2 meters.

7. Using health services.

  • If you do have a health problem, it is advisable to use remote medical services and to avoid going to the clinic as far as possible and in accordance with HMO guidelines published online and in the media.
  • Immediately upon commencement of quarantine, establish communication channels with your HMO. Check online or with family members what to do if you require medical services (you need to make sure you know how to contact the HMO and follow the HMO guidelines).
  • If you feel that you are developing illness, fever, with or without respiratory symptoms, you should go into home isolation and avoid contact with family members. Temperature should be measured twice a day. If you are concerned, contact your doctor or the referral center of the HMO you are a member of.
  • If you have a febrile illness, you should remain in isolation for up to two days after the fever has ended. The rest of the family should be isolated only in the event that you have been found positive for coronavirus.

8. Further rules of conduct:

  • Avoid physical contact including hugs and handshakes.
  • Do not open doors with the palm of your hand.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Ventilate your home as much as possible.
  • Disinfect handles and doors.
  • Do not kiss mezuzot and other sacred objects.
  • Do not smoke cigarettes, e-cigarettes or hookahs — this is a good opportunity to stop smoking!
  • Do not use shared utensils for eating and do not share food from mouth to mouth.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise while staying at home.

9. Rules for conduct outside of the home:

When is it permissible to go out?

  • If urgent medical care is required — patients with fever and respiratory symptoms are prohibited from leaving the home except in medical emergencies.
  • Employees — in accordance with government directives and regulations to be published separately.
  • You may go out for essential supplies if supplies cannot be delivered or brought to you by a family member (in the case of elderly or chronically ill patients).
  • Funerals — reduce attendance as much as possible to the absolute minimum; with only close family members, and maintain a distance of two meters between people. Avoid staying in confined spaces.
  • You may leave the house for a 10-minute walk in isolated locations or out in the yard. Take the elevator by yourself or without proximity to other people.
  • Looking after children — two families may look after each other’s toddlers.

When going outside of the home:

  • Exit in a private vehicle — only one person should be in a vehicle at one time unless they are family members of the same household (except when there is a need to escort someone).
  • Public transportation should be avoided as far as possible — detailed instructions will be issued separately.
  • Keep a distance of two meters from other people when you are in a public place.
  • Ensure hand and respiratory hygiene.

10. Rules of conduct at work:

  • Employees should maintain a distance of at least two meters apart.
  • Take your temperature before leaving for work. If you have a fever or signs of respiratory illness, do not go to work and follow self-isolation rules. It is recommended to maintain a temperature log (take your temperature morning and evening).
  • Wash your hands when arriving and before leaving work and at intervals of no more than 3 hours.
  • Do your best not to touch your mouth and nose. Wash your hands after every time you do make contact of this kind.
  • Tissue / toilet paper should be available to all employees.

11. As of Sunday, March 22, elective procedures in public hospitals will be suspended. A detailed announcement will follow.

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