Israel Hunkers Down for Stricter Lockdown: Here's What You Need to Know

Protests neutered, prayers allowed: The new, intensified restrictions for the coronavirus lockdown take effect at 2 P.M. on Friday

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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A man wearing a mask walks through Tel Aviv's shuttered Carmel Market, September 23, 2020.
A man wearing a mask walks through Tel Aviv's shuttered Carmel Market, September 23, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

On Thursday morning, the government approved restricting Israel's coronavirus lockdown even further. The new plan, which further limits businesses, movement, prayer and protest, has yet to be finalized, but represents a significant tightening from the lockdown that took effect on Friday.

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When do the new lockdown restrictions start, and when will they be lifted?

According to the government decision, the lockdown will go into effect on Friday at 2 P.M. It includes tighter restrictions than the current lockdown, namely closing non-essential businesses in the private sector, shuttering open-air markets (shuks) and limiting protests. The new restrictions will be in effect for two weeks, with an option to extend them.

Can I leave my house?

Yes, you can travel up to a kilometer (about .6 miles) from your home.

Leaving your kilometer radius is allowed for the following activities: Procuring essential items or services; assisting a person in need; receiving medical treatment or social welfare services; women traveling to mikveh (religious ritual) baths; transferring a minor whose parents are separated from one parent's home to the other; procuring essential care for pets; traveling to essential workplaces; traveling to the Knesset; donating blood; attending legal proceedings; attending a funeral of a first-degree relative; changing location of long-term residence; sport and exercise, but not with a vehicle.

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What is an essential workplace?

At this stage, only places that sell food and medication will remain open, as well as "essential service providers," and the media. The government will release a more detailed list later on Thursday.

Can I go to synagogue to pray?

Synagogues will remain open for Yom Kippur, which begins on Sunday night and ends Monday evening. Services for the holiday will be allowed inside synagogue buildings in groups of no more than 25, and with a radius of four square meters per person.

Otherwise, synagogues will be closed and prayer will only be allowed outdoors and in groups of up to 20 people maintaining a distance of two meters from each other.

Socially distanced worshipers at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Septermber 23, 2020.
Socially distanced worshipers at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Septermber 23, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Can I go to work?

No. Only workplaces to be designated by the government as essential will remain open.

Can I work from home?

Yes.

Can I leave my house to go to protests?

According to the restrictions, which still require the Knesset's approval, the law will be amended so that a person can only protest within a kilometer of their residence, in groups of 20 and while maintaining a two-meter distance from one another. The Israel Police will be authorized to hand out 1,000 shekel (approximately $280) fines to protesters who do not disperse when they are requested to do so.

Can I go to playgrounds and parks?

Yes, so long as they are within one kilometer of your home.

Can I go to the beach?

For exercise, you can go to the beach even if it is over a kilometer away from your home, and you get there by foot – traveling to the beach in a vehicle or by electric bicycle is prohibited. Swimming is allowed.

Will Ben-Gurion Airport remain open?

The airport is expected to close for departing flights during the lockdown, but a final decision is still pending.

Will there be public transportation?

Public transportation will operate under restrictions, and a decision on the matter is expected later on Thursday.

Will sports games continue?

No. Only participation in international games and tournaments will be allowed.

Can I go to someone else's home?

It is prohibited to visit other homes, save for special cases in which people who don't leave with you require assistance or help with procuring food.

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