A nationwide lockdown to last for the first few days of Passover has come into effect in Israel.
People will be restricted to their local communities until Friday morning as part of extended efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown began at 7pm Tuesday and includes a curfew from 3pm Wednesday until Thursday morning, to prevent people giving in to the temptation to visit family and friends on the first night of the Jewish festival, known as Seder Night.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the planned lockdown on Monday, with sources initially saying it could last from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday evening. The cabinet, however, approved a draft that called for a shorter lockdown period.
Earlier Tuesday, the National Roads Authority reported heavy traffic on the country's roads, shortly before the new restrictions were to come into effect.
The state-owned company said that traffic density was up by 45% in comparison with the previous week, a trend that began on Monday, as rumors of the planned restrictions started surfacing in the media.
The nationwide lockdown essentially prevents most Israelis from leaving the municipal boundaries of their own cities, although they would be allowed to shop for essential supplies in their communities close to their homes. They will also be allowed to walk their dogs up to 100m from their homes.
This is in contrast to the current guidelines that allow the public to stock up on food and medicine in stores and pharmacies that might not be closest to their place of residence.
During that time, people will only be allowed to move between cities in extraordinary cases.
All public transport, including international and domestic flights, is halted during the lockdown. Taxi services are still operational, however.
The government said the holiday shopping ban would not apply to non-Jewish minorities. Around a fifth of Israeli citizens are Arabs, mostly Muslims, Druze and Christians.
Also, due to the nationwide curfew set to be in place on Seder Night, food stores and pharmacies were to close at 3pm on Wednesday, at least three hours earlier than they usually close on the eve of the Passover.
In addition, an order requiring Israelis to wear surgical masks when going outside will officially go into effect on at 7am Sunday.
Israel has more than 9,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. At least 60 people have died.
Ahead of the holiday, IDF troops distributed some 50 tons of fruit and vegetables to residents of Bnei Brak, the ultra-Orthodox city that has been hit hard by the coronavirus and was sealed off last week, the military said Tuesday.
Around one third of Bnei Brak residents who were tested for the virus were found to have it, Israeli media have reported, citing Health Ministry data.
Many of the town's residents are poor and some have heeded rabbis who, distrusting the state, spurned anti-virus measures.
In a broadcast Passover benediction on Tuesday, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar sought to reassure the country.
"May the Lord lift the dark and heavy cloud of this pestilence from over us," he said.