No buses, strolls or shopping: Drastic new restrictions said set to be applied
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Coronavirus crisis

No buses, strolls or shopping: Drastic new restrictions said set to be applied

Government reportedly to announce strictest limitations yet, including shuttering all stores but food markets and pharmacies and keeping people within 150 meters of home

A woman walks her dog under a "don't panic" sign hanging on the entrance of the shuttered Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, March 23, 2020. (AP/Oded Balilty)
A woman walks her dog under a "don't panic" sign hanging on the entrance of the shuttered Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, March 23, 2020. (AP/Oded Balilty)

The government will reportedly shut down public transportation, order all shops but supermarkets and pharmacies closed, and limit how far people not going to work can walk outside their homes as part of a raft of drastic new measures aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

The new restrictions will be announced later Monday or Tuesday, according to Hebrew media reports, following a marathon seven-hour meeting attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and representatives from government ministries, including the Health Ministry and Treasury.

All stores are to be shuttered other than supermarkets, food outlets, and pharmacies, the reports said. Until now stores have been able to remain open if they can ensure customers maintain a two-meter distance from each other, or by only serving clientele at the door and denying entry to the premises.

In addition, the new measures are likely to include limitations on how much time people may spend at leisure out of doors and how far they may stray from their homes, with Channel 12 news reporting it will be a distance of 100-150 meters. Police are to be given new enforcement tools to ensure the orders are adhered to, the reports said.

The orders will be applied for a seven-day period.

Police patrol the Sacher Garden in Jerusalem, to prevent people gathering in public spaces due to the coronavirus outbreak, on March 23, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel on Sunday put in place new measures aimed at enforcing the social distancing rules, put many Israelis have continued to venture out, for work or leisure, leading officials to warn that a full lockdown enforced by police and the army could be in the offing.

The Health Ministry and police minister Gilad Erdan have been pushing for such a move for at least a week, but the government has been reluctant to pull the trigger, fearing the damage it may do to the economy.

A man wearing a face mask for fear of the coronavirus, walks past a homeless person near a closed shopping mall in Jerusalem on March 23, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

At the meeting, the Finance Ministry warned that if a total lockdown is applied the economy may not be able to rehabilitate afterwards, according to Channel 12 news.

As of Monday, there were 1,238 confirmed cases in Israel of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with one fatality. Around the world, there have been 16,000 deaths and over 367,000 cases.

Over the past few weeks, the government has ordered increasingly severe restrictions on public life, with schools, universities, and leisure centers shuttered and Israelis ordered to remain inside as much as possible.

Gatherings have been limited to just 10 people, and the public has been told to maintain a distance of two-meters from one another when outside.

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