With daily new virus cases averaging over 3,000 for the past few days, the government has ordered a nationwide lockdown, the third since the pandemic began, starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 27, and set to remain in force for at least two weeks.
This comes even as Israel is ramping up its vaccination drive, with a declared aim of inoculating 100,000 Israelis per day by next week. For now, vaccines are being given to healthcare workers, people aged 60-plus and at-risk groups. While vaccinating the general public has not yet begun, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel was likely to have beaten COVID-19 “within weeks” — thanks to the combination of the lockdown and the speedy vaccination drive — and could be the first country to do so.
What follows is the official government statement setting out the terms of the lockdown, issued Friday:
Joint Prime Minister’s Office-Health Ministry-Finance Ministry Statement
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office, Health Ministry and Finance Ministry)
Pursuant to its December 23, 2020 decision, the Cabinet, this morning (Friday, December 25, 2020), in a conference call, approved the following regulations, which will be valid for 14 days, from 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 27, 2020, until Saturday, January 9, 2021.
1. Restrictions on going out from one’s place of residence beyond 1,000 meters, apart from exceptions such as going out to be vaccinated, receive medical treatment or social work care, attend a demonstration or legal proceeding, do individual exercise (without use of a vehicle), transferring a minor between separated parents, going to a permitted place of work or to permitted educational activity, or going out to attend a funeral, wedding or circumcision (subject to the restrictions on gatherings).
Fine for violation: NIS 500.
2. A prohibition on leaving one’s place of residence in order to be present in another person’s place of residence.
3. Closure of public and commercial places except for essential stores: Food, hygiene, optical, pharmacies, and electric products and products that are necessary for essential home repairs.
4. Closure of guest units and b&b’s, zoos, safari parks and nature reserves, national parks, national and commemorative sites, places for giving non-medical treatment including beauty and cosmetics treatment, places for giving complementary medical treatment, drive-in cinemas, malls, markets and museums. The option of opening an eating establishment for pick-up service is canceled.
5. Places for athletic training may operate for professional athletes only.
6. Practical driving lessons are canceled; organizing – or participating in – an organized hike is prohibited.
* Class as usual for ages 0-6, grades 1-4 and grades 11-12
* There will be no classes for grades 5-10. Update: The Knesset overruled this restriction. Grades 5-10 will have school as usual.
* Activity in open areas is prohibited. Practical classes in institutions for education or professional training for adults are prohibited as are classroom studies for grades 13-14, which are continuing education for drop-outs or youth-at-risk, and youth movement activities.
* The following may continue: activity for special education pupils, drop-outs and youth-at-risk, boarding schools, classroom studies for new olim and access to in institutions for education or professional training for adults for on-line learning for students that require this.
* Trips are prohibited.
The ministerial coronavirus committee, this morning (Friday, December 25, 2020), decided that as of 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 27, 2020, until Saturday, January 9, 2021, places of work that employ more than ten workers may not allow more than 50% of their workforce, or 10 workers whichever is higher, to be present in the workplace at the same time apart from the following exceptions: Places of work that provide essential services, enterprises that give vital services, enterprises with special permission to employ workers during hours of rest, places of work involved in construction or infrastructure, security industries and security-supporting enterprises (to which other restrictions will apply). Beyond the foregoing, employers must continue to meet the purple badge standard conditions.
The ministerial coronavirus committee also approved the Health Ministry’s draft decision to cancel the declaration of Eilat and the Dead Sea area as green islands, effective from Monday, December 28, 2020.