Israel to Impose Coronavirus Nighttime Curfew Over Hanukkah, New Year's

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Police check cars during a lockdown in Jerusalem, September 18, 2020.
Police check cars during a lockdown in Jerusalem, September 18, 2020.Credit: Emil Salman

The ministerial committee responsible for Israel’s coronavirus response imposed on Monday a nighttime curfew nationwide starting Wednesday, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The measure will last until January 2 – and will cover Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, unless ministers decide otherwise based on infection rates.

While ministers accepted the National Security Council’s proposal to set potential exit points, the specifics of the curfew, including the hours it will be in force and what activities will be allowed during curfew hours, have yet to be decided.

Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy said Tuesday that he curfew would begin at 6 or 7 p.m., “a time at which people can be at home.” He added that “in principle, the nighttime curfew will not permit any substantial movement, certainly not from one city to another or from one neighborhood to another.”

The NSC proposed imposing a nightly curfew nationwide between the eve of Hannukah, December 10, until December 20. If the number of new cases per day is higher than 3,500, the state would close shops and some businesses until January 2, under the proposal. If the number of new cases a day is not lower than 4,500 by January 2, the NSC proposed a full national lockdown.

The coronavirus cabinet also announced new measures on re-entering the country, conditioning home isolation on a negative coronavirus test. If Israelis are unable to present a negative COVID-19 test, they will be required to self-isolate in a state-run facility.

Israel expects to receive the first batch of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, health officials say, to coincide with an FDA hearing on approving its emergency use. Only about 200,000 doses of the vaccine are expected as part of the first delivery – enough for 100,000 people.

Sheba Medical Center announced Monday it will vaccinate its employees in the coming weeks, according to a hospital-wide email in which the administration stressed the importance of vaccinating all staff. The email also included a survey to assess employees’ willingness to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Health workers are expected to be vaccinated in the first round of immunizations, along with the elderly and at-risk groups.

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