- Israel will enter lockdown for three weeks starting Sept. 18
- The lockdown will last the entire Jewish High Holy Days
- A second lockdown will have a severe impact on the country’s economy
Following a surge in COVID-19 cases, Israel is set to enter a second lockdown period on Sept. 18. The daily rate of new infections skyrocketed to 4,000 last week, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce the country’s second lockdown since the pandemic began.
The lockdown, which is slated for three weeks, will last through the entire Jewish holiday season. As noted by Al Jazeera, the season begins with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, on Sept. 18 and ends with Sukkot on Oct. 9. The lockdown will not lifted until Oct. 11.
Lockdown procedures will include a shutdown of all schools and shopping malls, along with the requirement that all citizens remain within 500 feet of their homes unless they’re traveling to work. Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open for business. Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 20.
The second lockdown will have a severe impact on the country’s economy, according to Israel’s finance ministry. The pandemic has already forced much of the world into a recession, and it could end up costing Israel 6.5 billion shekels, according to Al Jazeera, or approximately $1.88 billion.
Typically, millions of worshippers gather for religious services throughout the Jewish holiday season, where they would hear the shofar being blown—which is also a COVID-19 worry. But the lockdown aims to prevent large gatherings at homes and synagogues, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Israel is among the top 25 countries when it comes to COVID-19 infections. The country experienced 2,392 new cases on Sept. 15, with a total of 166,794 cases thus far in the pandemic. Israel has a population of nearly 9.2 million.
Israel’s Ministry of Health listed the updated regulations and expanded on the country’s plan for post-lockdown measures. Following the three-week lockdown, Israel plans to launch its “Traffic Light Plan,” which “classifies local authorities in Israel according to four categories: Green, Yellow, Orange and Red, in accordance with their morbidity index. Each color classification determines the restrictions on gatherings and maximum capacity.”
The CDC currently considers Israel a “high risk” country for COVID-19. The agency advises travelers to avoid Israel for the time being, flagging concerns that “resources may be limited” for those seeking medical care. It lists several precautionary measures that essential travelers can take, including maintaining a six-foot distance from others, vigilant mask-wearing and hand washing, and avoiding travel while sick.