As COVID cases rise again, Israel reimposes some restrictions

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With a resurgence in the number of coronavirus cases and an 18 percent increase in the number of patients hospitalized in serious condition, the Israeli government is re-imposing certain restrictions in an effort to get a handle on the virus.

Ministers in the coronavirus cabinet unanimously voted this week to limit public gatherings to 50 people and chopped the capacity of people at event halls to 100 people — down from 250 for indoor venues. These new guidelines will continue through July 31 unless extended.

This limit affects places of worship including synagogues, mosques and churches.

Israel has recorded 319 deaths from COVD-19 and nearly 24,000 cases — 17,114 of which have recovered. Some 46 people are in serious condition, with 24 on ventilators. The number of cases soared since the government reopened the economy and schools in May.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised government compensation for the sectors hurt by the new restrictions.

“The promised money will get to the people, and we will introduce innovative plans to keep our economy moving forward,” Netanyahu said. 

The country is still closed to foreigners, and the shutdown is crippling the tourism industry. Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the government for failing to address the economic ramifications of its restrictions.

“There isn’t a compensation framework for small businesses, there isn’t a plan to get people back to work, and unemployment rates in Israel are among the highest in the world,” Lapid said. “A few weeks ago, the prime minister said, ‘The whole world is learning from us how to manage the corona crisis.’ Everyone was very impressed, except the world. Because the rest of the world understands that there is a difference between talking and managing a crisis. They’re not impressed by speeches, they’re working with facts.”

A poll on Sunday showed that 85 percent of the public are worried about their economic future.

“The rest are all members of the government,” Lapid noted dryly.

As the European Union opens its borders, Israel is marked as a red country meaning Israelis won’t be allowed to travel there freely.

“A red country is one that isn’t effectively managing the corona crisis,” he said. “Instead of managing the crisis they created the largest, most bloated government in the history of Israel.”

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