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Nationwide curfew goes into effect for Independence Day

Stores closed, Israelis barred from going over 100 meters from home in bid to prevent holiday gatherings; police checkpoints enforce prohibition on intercity travel

Israeli police and soldiers guard at a roadblock on a road leading to the Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery, as Israel marks Memorial Day on April 28, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israeli police and soldiers guard at a roadblock on a road leading to the Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery, as Israel marks Memorial Day on April 28, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A nationwide Independence Day curfew went into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, confining Israelis to their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus via the traditional street revelry that usually accompanies the holiday.

During the curfew, which will be in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday, Israelis will not be permitted to travel more than 100 meters from their homes except for medical and other “vital” needs.

Physical exercise will be permitted at distances up to 500 meters from one’s home.

Grocery stores and public transportation will be closed for the duration. The last buses on Tuesday departed their stations at 5 p.m. For some vital travel, such as rides to work for medical crews, special buses and taxis will be allowed.

People wear protective masks to protect them from the coronavirus in Tel Aviv on April 28, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The curfew was declared as an emergency measure voted on by the cabinet earlier this week.

Police began establishing a network of 44 roadblocks on main roads throughout the country on Tuesday, including at all major highway junctions, to enforce the new restrictions, though intercity travel had already been barred as part of a nationwide lockdown for Memorial Day, which began Monday night and stretches until the start of Independence Day.

The restrictions, similar to those that were in force during the first day of Passover on April 19 and 20, are intended to prevent the large gatherings of family and friends traditional during the holidays.

The Independence Day lockdown comes alongside Ramadan restrictions in Muslim-majority areas, intended to prevent the traditionally festive gatherings of fast-breakers in the evenings. In Muslim towns, businesses are required to close from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night until May 3, with the exception of pharmacies and home delivery services.

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