TEL AVIV, Israel - After a fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases in Israel, the government on Sunday (local time) announced a three-week lockdown from September 18.
The lockdown will take force at 2:00pm on Friday, hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah.
"The medical experts told me to close when the health system raises a red flag," The Times of Israel quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying at a press conference prior to boarding a plane for Washington ahead of the signing on Tuesday of peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.
"They're warning us about the jump in the number of seriously [sick] patients and from the winter."
The Israeli prime minister said that the schools will be closed from Friday, and there will be strict limitations in place for businesses and public sector employers.
"I know these steps have a high price for all of us and we can't celebrate [the holidays] with the whole family," Mr Netanyahu said while urging citizens to wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
This is the second time the Israeli government had had to enforce a lockdown in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For three months, I tried to avoid a lockdown. I did everything so that we could live alongside the coronavirus, with rules here and there," the Israeli prime minister said. "Under the circumstances that were created, we had no choice."
3,182 new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Israel on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the outbreak to 156,823, according to a mid-day update by the Health Ministry on Monday.
Despite the decision not all the Israeli cabinet have supported the lockdown decision. Israeli Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman tendered his resignation over the issue. This wrongs and scorns hundreds of thousands of citizens, Litzman, who heads an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in mr Netanyahus conservative coalition, said in his resignation letter.
Where were you until now? Why have the Jewish holidays become a convenient address for tackling the coronavirus...? he asked.
(ANI/Big News Network).