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Police hand out close to 4,000 fines over Yom Kippur for virus rule violations

Penalties issued to people for not wearing masks or for being away from home without legit reason; social media clips show dozens waiting to board buses in Bnei Brak at end of fast

Police guard at a temporary checkpoint in the entrance to Jerusalem, on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police guard at a temporary checkpoint in the entrance to Jerusalem, on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Over the past two days, officers handed nearly 4,000 fines to those found in violation of the coronavirus restrictions, the police reported on Monday evening after Yom Kippur. Israel is in the midst of a second national lockdown, with restrictions on movement and activity tightened as of Friday.

A majority of the fines, 2,789, were issued to people found outside their residence for a “prohibited” purpose, police said, violating a rule to travel from home only for essential needs.

Over 900 fines were handed to people for not wearing masks, and 44 for violating quarantine orders. Some 60 fines were issued to people found at the beach, or a place of business that was prohibited from operating.

There was no specific mention of any synagogues found to be violating regulations pertaining to the number of worshipers inside.

Police talk to a man at the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on September 24, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The police said that its officers will continue to “work with the authorities and other law enforcement agencies to stop the spread of the coronavirus to protect the public and its health.”

The police called on the public to heed instructions as part of the national effort to battle the spread of the coronavirus in Israel.

However, as Yom Kippur came to an end, videos posted to social media appeared to show dozens of people waiting in lines to board buses in the majority ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, with little sign of social distancing or wearing of masks.

Israeli authorities have promised to step up enforcement of the rules as the country’s infection rates have continued to rise, leading to a second national lockdown in six months. The closure began before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and restrictions were toughened on Friday, ahead of Yom Kippur.

As of Monday evening, Israel’s death toll from the coronavirus stood at 1,499, up 33 over the previous 24 hours. Israel also had a total of 233,118 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, with 66,639 active cases, 763 of them serious, and 287 in moderate condition.

On Tuesday, the government is set to finalize legislation banning large demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Plans by the government to limit the rallies, as well as public prayers, fell through Friday after lawmakers failed to agree on the legislation before the start of Shabbat. The legislation would have limited protests to within a kilometer of an individual’s home, and in groups of no more than 20 people.

As a result, mass demonstrations against Netanyahu’s corruption cases and his handling of the pandemic were held on Saturday night, even as the country was placed under tight lockdown rules to curb the coronavirus rates.

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