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Ministers convene to discuss extending virus lockdown

Government ministers convene to discuss extending lockdown restrictions, a day after Israel recorded a record number of daily coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu releases a statement ahead of the meeting calling for the lockdown to be extended, without specifying how long.

“This might not be popular nor convenient during elections, but this is what we need to decide today,” he says. “It’s a lot easier to ignore the incredible jump in morbidity and just open everything, but this will cost many lives.”

He adds: “I know this is a difficult decision for many Israeli citizens but a last effort is needed here, a joint effort by all of us to get out of the coronavirus [pandemic] and save lives.”

Netanyahu also refers to a mass wedding in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak last night that violated lockdown rules, describing it as a “bloodletting.”

The tightened restrictions currently in force, which took effect earlier this month after the government already ordered a lockdown, are set to expire Thursday night if not extended.

According to Hebrew media reports, Defense Minister Benny Gantz is demanding that virus rules be enforced in areas with high morbidity rates as a condition for his Blue and White party to support extending the lockdown, among other measures.

Data published by the Kan public broadcaster yesterday showed enforcement was far more lax in ultra-Orthodox areas, despite them having some of the highest per capita infection rates in the country.

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