Netanyahu set to decide on new, stricter measures to halt coronavirus pandemic

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to convene a meeting at his office in Jerusalem late on Saturday afternoon to discuss further, more stringent measures Israel may take to halt the coronavirus pandemic.

Netanyahu will meet with the relevant authorities, including from the health and finance ministries, after which he will likely make a statement later in the day announcing any new directives, according to Hebrew media reports.

The stricter measures could include transitioning staff at workplaces deemed non-essential to work from home, further limiting public gatherings and movement and shutting down malls and other places, and possibly shuttering kindergartens and private daycares in addition to the schools and universities which were ordered closed for at least the next month.

A senior minister told the Ynet news site that, currently, “the inclination is a slowdown of the economy, not a shutdown.”

Officials were said to be working to determine how many Israeli workers would be classified as non-essential, according to Ynet.

The Health Ministry is pushing for a complete shutdown, according to the report, and Netanyahu will have to decide on the next course of action.

According to an unsourced report (in Hebrew) by news channel N12, the Health Ministry is looking to include a directive where no more than two people would be in a room together to limit contact, as well as a complete suspension of the public transport system and the education system.

Director-generals from the relevant ministries were said to have held marathon talks overnight Friday-Saturday at the Finance Ministry’s headquarters in Jerusalem to run through scenarios where there is a complete shutdown with only essential services running. The discussions were centered around working out certain details such as how IDF soldiers were to get to their bases and whether to shutter boarding schools which were not included in the directive from Thursday evening ordering the shutdown of schools from the first grade through high school, as well as universities.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel climbed to 164 as of early Saturday afternoon, up 21 from Friday, with nearly 40,000 currently in home quarantines, according to the Israeli Health Ministry. Of those with the virus, two are still in serious condition, 10 are in moderate condition, and four have recovered.

Israel has seen no deaths from the virus.

Of the 164 confirmed cases, 124 people have been hospitalized with 27 receiving medical care at home. Some 38,000 are in self-quarantine, including nearly 1,000 doctors, more than 600 nurses, 170 paramedics, and 80 pharmacists, according to Health Ministry figures.

The country has taken a number of far-reaching measures to contain and fight the virus, but has so far stopped short of steps such as banning all non-essential domestic travel or ordering the closure of most businesses.

Any public gatherings of over 100 people have been banned as of Wednesday, leading to the cancellation of sports games and numerous other events, as well as the closure of theaters and many hotels. That order, which went into effect Thursday, applies to weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals, and covers “both closed and open spaces,” according to the Health Ministry.

The regulation has also impacted religious life, with Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef on Thursday calling on Israelis to avoid large prayer gatherings at the Western Wall and saying Health Ministry directives should be treated as Jewish law “for all intents and purposes.”

Police announced Friday they were carrying out hundreds of inspections to ensure compliance with the ban on gatherings of over 100 people.

Netanyahu has urged Israelis to “keep your distance” from each other — citing a one-meter minimum, and a preferred two meters. “Tens of thousands” of Israeli lives are at stake, he said, and intimated that tens of millions could die worldwide if the virus is not thwarted.

Earlier in the week, the government announced an emergency package of more than NIS 10 billion ($2.8 billion) to stabilize the economy and offset some damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“The coronavirus has a heavy economic impact on the global market, and on our own,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday when the fund was announced. “The state of the Israeli economy is better than most world economies. The financial system is strong and unemployment is low. These are big advantages in entering this crisis. This is a challenge we believe we can manage, in order to eventually traverse it safely,” he added.

To curb the spread of the virus in the country, all Israelis returning from overseas are required to quarantine at home for 14 days. Non-Israeli nationals were barred from entering the country as of March 12, unless they can demonstrate an ability to self-quarantine for two weeks.

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2 Responses to “Netanyahu set to decide on new, stricter measures to halt coronavirus pandemic”

  1. Lori says:

    How moronic…satanists who create new levels of viruses deliberately are going to take measures to control the spread from their abstinent heterosexuals in raping prisons. Grow up liars.

  2. Jesus Christ ✝ Jesus Christ ✝ says:

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