Israel Extends Lighter Coronavirus Closure on Hot Spots Despite Report on City's Harsh Condition

Ultra-Orthodox cities and neighborhoods are still in serious condition 'in light of the growing infection rate,' report says, byt Bnei Brak mayor pressured government not to extend restrictions

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A view of Bnei Brak under coronavirus closure, April 10, 2020.
A view of Bnei Brak under coronavirus closure, April 10, 2020.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

A ministerial committee in charge of handling the coronavirus crisis decided to partially renew the closure on the largely ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which was badly hit by the pandemic.

According to the new restrictions, the prohibition on entering and exiting Bnei Brak is only valid when residents do so by public transportation. Taxis will not be affected by the latest order.

These restrictions will come into effect Thursday at 6 P.M. until Monday.

This comes in light of Bnei Brak Mayor Avraham Rubinstein's promise to cabinet ministers he would move 700 patients to hotels and thereby reduce the number of people ill with the coronavirus in his city. It wasn’t clear though whether this justifies the removal of the full closure before the expiration of a requisite 14 days of quarantine.

In Jerusalem, residents living in areas the committee decided to remain restricted will be able to go to work. This order will be in effect until Sunday.  

Read the full information on Jerusalem’s restricted areas

The decision not to reinstate a full closure on Bnei Brak comes despite the fact that the government received an official report denoting that the condition there remains serious “in light of the growing infection and a very high rate at which people are testing positive.”

According to the report written by the national information center for the campaign against coronavirus, a research body formed by the Israeli army in collaboration with the Health Ministry and National Security Council, ultra-Orthodox cities and neighborhoods remain a top priority.

However, under pressure from Rubinstein, the closure was not extended past Wednesday’s expiration and the police have opened up roadblocks.

The report specifically mentioned the cities of Bnei Brak, Modi’in Illit, Elad, Beitar Illit, and Kochav Yaakov and the Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.

“An improvement is needed in enforcing quarantines and the campaign to increase the numbers of those tested, particularly in Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit and Beitar Illit,” the report said.

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