מחסומי משטרה במחלף נחשונים
Police officers enforce the lockdown at Nachshonim Junction near Tel Aviv
Photo: Yariv Katz
Police officers enforce the lockdown at Nachshonim Junction near Tel Aviv

Health Ministry seeks 2-week extension on national virus lockdown

Officials fear ending nationwide closure at start of weekend would encourage mass gatherings; cabinet members oppose call, with Blue & White ministers saying they would only agree if there were tighter enforcement in Haredi sector

Ynet |
Published: 01.18.21 , 15:59
The Health Ministry was expected to ask the government to extend the total national coronavirus closure by two weeks, although officials have indicated that they may compromise on 10 days.
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  • Whichever date is agreed, the ministry is seeking to ensure that the closure does not end on at midnight on Thursday, January 28, in order to prevent people gathering en masse over the first weekend out of lockdown.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מחסומי משטרה במחלף נחשונים
    מחסומי משטרה במחלף נחשונים
    Police officers enforce the lockdown at Nachshonim Junction near Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    The ministry has expressed concern over Israel's infection rate, which is still high despite the closure and the internationally praised vaccination campaign that has seen almost one quarter of the population receive at least the first jab.
    Health official said earlier Monday that there had been just 5,616 new daily coronavirus cases diagnosed the day before, but voiced concern over the national infection rate that had climbed to a staggering 9.1 percent.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מחלקת קורונה בית חולים הלל יפה חדרה
    מחלקת קורונה בית חולים הלל יפה חדרה
    Treating coronavirus patients at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    The country's hospitals also warned Sunday that they are overwhelmed and the congestion threatens the quality of patient care. On Friday, a seriously ill coronavirus patient at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv died when overworked staff failed to notice that his ventilator was not working properly. Israel's struggling hospitals have warned that this will likely not be the only time such an incident occurs.
    The government was due to convene at 3pm Tuesday to discuss a potential extension of the closures, the "green passport" plan for those who have been vaccinated and the proposal for new restrictions at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    אימון מחאה על הסגר מול משרד הבריאות בתל אביב
    אימון מחאה על הסגר מול משרד הבריאות בתל אביב
    Gym owners protest outside the Health Ministry offices in Tel Aviv over the closure of their businesses
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    The plan for new restrictions at the airport include a negative COVID test for anyone wishing to enter the country, mandatory isolation for returning nationals from more countries and restrictions on international travel. The plan was drafted after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency debate with senior officials late Sunday over the spread of mutated strains of the coronavirus.
    Some ministers have expressed opposition to extending the full closure even for another week, including Minister of Regional Cooperation Ophir Akunis of Likud, who is demanding that the closure only be extended by 72 hours in light of the reduction in the rate of infection.
    Blue & White ministers led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz have said they will not agree to an extension of the closure unless real enforcement is carried out in the ultra-Orthodox sector, where serious violations have consistently been observed and the infection rate is the highest in the country.

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