Roadblocks in cities, at exit points and across highways, police officers and soldiers enforcing lockdown regulations and only employees with a special pass allowed to get to work – this is how Israel would look like in a worst-case scenario of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the police.
A document obtained by Haaretz details the most extreme of scenarios that could take place in a situation in which “there’s no control over the virus’ spread, and in light of this a decision will be made to impose a strict quarantine and movement restrictions nationwide."
This "stage 3" scenario was discussed at a meeting held on Thursday with Defense Ministry, police and army officials. The current state of the outbreak in Israel is defined by authorities as “stage 1,” in which the police intend to boost its presence on the roads starting Friday, and to enforce restrictions mainly on businesses operating in violation of emergency regulations. At this stage, a person leaving their home in defiance of the instructions will not be held criminally liable except in extreme cases, not yet defined by the police.
The next stage is based on a scenario in which there will be “a serious outbreak of the virus in a defined region which will require handling by imposing a local closure/isolation.” In such situation, the police will set up roadblocks at the entrances and exits to the particular region or district, and any exits from this area will be permitted only with an identity document. At stage 2, city inspectors will help police enforce the movement restrictions, and people will be questioned alongside “strict deterrence” measures in areas that are under isolation.
The third stage will be the most severe. Police already have a detailed plan for blocking off districts and restricting traffic. Inspection stations will be set up to monitor pedestrians as well, and only essential workers will be able to move around by means of showing their identity cards. Army forces are expected to join the police and the border police at this stage to assist them, and enforcement measures will be upgraded in the areas under isolation
Under the most extreme scenario, the national emergency authority will be responsible for the situation, something which could happen even before stage 3. At this stage the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command will be responsible for coordinating the conveyance of information, including messages and infomercials on the part of the health ministry and police, from inside television studios. Even in this most extreme stage of events, people will be permitted outside to purchase food but this will be regulated by the police.
At the same time, one of the main issues being discussed by emergency bodies is language. The authorities are trying to find another term for “closure” due to the word’s negative connotations. "As part of an effort to create a 'common language' the word 'closure' will be replaced by the term 'isolation'."