Netanyahu Announces Return to Strict Passover Lockdown Measures

Benjamin Netanyahu
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the government would reimpose strict lockdown measures from Tuesday afternoon until Thursday morning, as Jewish families across Israel prepare to celebrate the end of Passover.

The clampdown on movement, mirroring those implemented ahead of Seder night last week, reflects fears that family gatherings during the festival and Mimouna celebrations could aggravate the coronavirus outbreak, as previously occurred during the Purim holiday.

“In the global fight against the coronavirus, there is no retreat,” said Netanyahu in a televised address. “If we retreat before the right time, we are likely to pay a very heavy price in human lives. There are outbreak hotspots, which we are giving special treatment and our attention is focused on retirement homes.”

From 5 p.m. on Tuesday until 5 a.m. on Thursday, Israelis will not be permitted to leave their towns and cities. In Jerusalem, movement will be restricted within pre-defined neighborhoods.

To prevent crowding following the conclusion of Passover on Wednesday evening, bakeries and supermarket bread departments will not reopen until Thursday morning.

Promising to emerge strongly from the economic crisis caused by the outbreak, Netanyahu said the government will make a “final decision ahead of the weekend” regarding gradual restoration of the economy and the reopening of the education system.

The country’s death toll climbed to 116 on Monday, increasing by nine fatalities. A total of 11,586 people cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed to date, including 183 patients in serious condition, and 132 requiring ventilation. Some 1,855 individuals have recovered from the virus.

A total of 7,680 tests were carried out between Sunday and Monday morning, the Health Ministry said, up from less than 6,000 a few days before. The ministry said it is targeting 10,000 daily tests during the Passover holiday.