Israel imposes third nationwide lockdown amid new COVID wave

A bartender and customers wear face masks to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel has entered the third nationwide lockdown amid a vaccination drive aimed at curbing the raging coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions, which came into force on Sunday, will last for at least two weeks, pending a final decision by the coronavirus cabinet.

Under the new measures, from 5 p.m. every evening, people are required to stay within 1,000 metres of their homes, except for commuting to workplaces that have been defined as “essential,” seeking medical care, attending legal proceedings, and exercising.

Restaurants and shops are closed, except for deliveries.

Unlike the two previous lockdowns, kindergartens, schools for children under six, and secondary schools for grades 11 and 12 will remain open.

The Finance Ministry has estimated that reimposing the third lockdown will cost the Israeli economy about $930 million a week.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was hopeful that the country’s vaccination drive will help beat the pandemic, as Israel was entering the second week of its vaccination drive.

In the current stage, however, only the elderly, people at high risk, and medical teams are being administered the vaccine.

According to Netanyahu, Israel can provide up to 150,000 vaccine shots per day by January 1, 2021.

“Since everyone needs two injections, after one month we will have vaccinated 2.25 million Israeli citizens,” the prime minister said.

With a population of about 9 million, Israel has so far reported 401,470 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,226 deaths.

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