All public and organized group transportation into Jerusalem has been halted until Sunday night in an effort to crack down on mass celebrations on the final day of Purim.
Police checkpoints were set up at all entrances to Jerusalem on Saturday evening to ensure that no large organized groups arrived in the city. Entry was, however, permitted by private vehicle.
The Transportation Ministry said that the new measures were put in place in order to "prevent expected gatherings for holiday events in Jerusalem as they may constitute a source of mass coronavirus infection.”
The move comes alongside a nighttime curfew placed on the entire country for the duration of the normally festive three-day holiday.
The curfew initially included a loophole that allowed for extensive mass celebrations in the capital and other predominantly Haredi cities on the final day of Purim, for which it came under heavy public criticism.
Police have warned that any transport operators attempting to violate the ban on entry to the capital faced a fine of NIS 5,000.
A prominent Hassidic activist said ahead of the holiday that his community would not be abiding by any government-imposed curfews.
"Obviously we will [celebrate Shushan Purim] this year. The guidelines do not interest us. Of course if there were no restrictions it would be much easier."
Meanwhile, a senior police official vowed that law enforcement would work to make sure that the Purim restrictions were being observed in the ultra-Orthodox sector
"We set up the emergency and information centers so that we know about every party. Today the fine is up to NIS 10,000,” said Chief Superintendent Assi Aharoni.
On Saturday afternoon, police stopped a massive, impromptu Purim street party at Jaffa flea market, attended by hundreds of people in violation of coronavirus restrictions.
Police also said that they had prevented dozens of planned Purim parties that were also due to take place in violation of the curfew. According to police, 33 suspects were questioned and given warnings.
Israel is still struggling to bring down its infection rates despite a massive vaccine rollout, as younger patients replace older members of the population who have largely had both jabs.
The Health Ministry said Sunday morning that 1,429 new coronavirus cases had been diagnosed since Saturday.
There are currently 776 patients in serious condition in Israel, including 241 people connected to ventilators. Since the onset of the pandemic a year ago, Israel has seen 5,738 people die due to complications from COVID-19.