Palestinian Authority to Roll Out Strict Nighttime, Weekend Curfew, Ban on Gatherings

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A Palestinian police officer stops a car during a lockdown amid the outbreak of COVID-19, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 18, 2020.
A Palestinian police officer stops a car during a lockdown amid the outbreak of COVID-19, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank December 18, 2020.Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN / REUTERS

The Palestinian Authority announced a series of new measures to go into effect on Sunday, in a bid to curb the rise in coronavirus cases in the West Bank. These new guidelines include a nighttime curfew starting Sunday, from 7 P.M. to 6 A.M., and a weekend curfew on Friday and Saturday. All gatherings, including weddings and funerals, are banned under the new restrictions.

The Palestinian authorities have also banned Arab Israelis from entering the West Bank, Palestinian laborers from moving between Israel and the West Bank, and all residents from moving between Palestinian cities.

The decision to introduce these new restrictions was made following the steadily increasing rise in the number of people contracting the virus and out of concern that hospitals would be overwhelmed. According to the latest figures published by the Health Ministry in Ramallah, 360 newly infected people were detected in the last 24 hours, with 12.6 percent of people tested for the virus found to be carriers. It was also announced that 14 people died of coronavirus in the West Bank over the last 24 hours. 119 people are in intensive care units, 27 of whom are on respirators.

Despite the announced measures, the Palestinian public seems indifferent, expressing doubts about the extent of expected enforcement due to economic pressures and business owners’ efforts prevent any closures.

The Palestinian Authority is awaiting the arrival of the vaccine, expecting a delivery from Moderna to arrive within a few weeks. The person responsible for handling the epidemic on behalf of the Health Ministry, Dr. Kamal al-Shakhra, said in an interview to Palestinian TV that the Authority will be receiving vaccines from four companies – Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Russian company Sputnik, but none of these can provide all the doses required in the West Bank.

The situation in the Gaza Strip is more complicated, with the rate of positive tests approaching 20 percent of people tested. According to figures released by the health ministry in Gaza, 704 new cases have been identified in the last 24 hours, with the number of active cases now standing at 9,816. 268 of these are in hospitals, 151 of them on respirators. Eleven people have died in the last 24 hours. The cumulative number of people infected in the current surge is 386.

Suhad Saidam, adjusts one of her face masks on a youth at her sewing workshop in Gaza City, Monday, December 14, 2020. Credit: Adel Hana / AP

The Hamas Internal Affairs Ministry said they would continue to maintain restrictions mainly on weekends, with a full curfew, and nighttime curfews on weekdays, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

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