Prime Minister Netanyahu gives a press conference from his official residence in Jerusalem, where he is self-isolating after one of his aides tested positive for the coronavirus.
Netanyahu says he voluntarily entered quarantine as a “personal example” to Israelis. He says the various tests to determine whether he is actually required to be isolation are ongoing.
The camera is the required distance away, “and I did my own make-up and hair, which is why it looks like this,” he says.
He says the government will approve further restrictions on Israelis’ movement when it meets later this evening, along with measures to support the economy.
“It’s true that in Israel we’re in a better situation than almost every other country,” he says, but adds that more needs to be done to curb the spread of infection. “We want to reach the level of some countries in Asia that have slowed the pace of infection still further.”
Netanyahu says there are “particular groups” in the country not adhering to emergency directives — “deliberately breaching and even showing contempt” for the rules– and that he therefore ordered security forces to step up enforcement in areas with a high number of violations.
He stresses that most Israelis, including those in the ultra-Orthodox community, are acting responsibly. The “extremist groups” who are flouting the rules, he says, endanger themselves and everybody else, and are trampling on the principle of “love thy neighbor.”
“There won’t be gatherings of over two people who are not from the same nuclear family,” he announces.
Additionally, he says no kind of prayer will be allowed even in open areas — “pray only on your own” — and that religious events should be restricted as much as possible.
Even weddings must be restricted only to immediately family, he says. Funerals remain limited to 20 people, and circumcisions to 10 — all while maintaining two-meter social distancing.
He says companies will need to reduce their workforces to 15 percent.
Netanyahu also calls on Israelis not to visit family during the Passover holiday.
This year’s Passover Seder will be “the lockdown seder” — with only the nuclear family attending. “Don’t visit relatives on the eve of the festival either,” he stresses.
“These same restrictions apply as relevant to all faiths,” he notes.