Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has instructed the Israel Police to prepare for a complete lockdown of the country, calling such a move “inevitable.”
Erdan held a conference call Tuesday night with the chief of police and heads of other security agencies, following the latest update to guidelines issued by the Health Ministry to stem of the growing number of Israelis infected with the new coronavirus.
“I am convinced that in view of the situation that has arisen, this is an inevitable decision that will save many lives,” Erdan said.
The public security minister has requested that police and security chiefs urgently prepare and present to him a detailed plan for implementing a countrywide lockdown, in which only essential workers will be allowed to leave their homes, while other citizens will only be allowed out in order to buy supplies and for medical treatment. If a lockdown is ordered, police will be placed in charge of enforcement, while the IDF Home Front Command will be in charge of the supply of essential items.
Erdan told participants in the conference call that while a decision to impose a complete lockdown would be a very difficult one, in the current situation it is preferable to take tough measures for a short time in order to defeat the coronavirus quickly and prevent deaths.
The Health Ministry introduced sweeping new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus on Tuesday, instructing Israelis not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary, but stopping short of imposing a mandatory lockdown.
Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov warned following the new directives that thousands of Israelis could die of the virus if anti-contagion measures were not adhered to.
“We assess that scenarios like in Italy and Spain can happen here too,” Bar Siman-Tov said. “In the coming days… the rate of new cases will rise — to 100 a day or more. We may come to a situation of hundreds more [cases] each day,” he said.
In the end, he said, “people will die — possibly even in the next few days.”
“Unfortunately, in scenarios we have, many thousands [of Israelis] could die,” he warned.