Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the government will later on Thursday approve orders to make the state of emergency, declared over the coronavirus outbreak by the Health Ministry, legally binding.
Police will now be able to enforce health authorities' directives under emergency orders. The order will go onto effect early Friday and will last at the initial stage for seven days.
The move effectively enforces a lockdown on Israel for the first time since the days of the country's establishment.
"Under these orders, you, Israel's citizens, are required to stay at home. It is no longer a request, it is not a recommendation, it is an obligatory directive that will be enforced by enforcement authorities," Netanyahu said in a televised address.
As part of the orders, Israelis will still be allowed to leave the house to purchase food, medicine or to receive medical treatment. Those whose work is defined by the government as "essential" will still be allowed to go to work and will be exempted from the restrictions.
"Even if you go outside for a short time, do not congregate. Keep with you hygiene tools and keep a distance of two meters … It is not a game, it can seal your fate," said Netanyahu.
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman-Tov, who also spoke at the news conference, warned the battle against the new virus has only started and there is a long way ahead.
"We can tell you honestly that this will probably last a long time,” he said. “We don't know how long, but definitely are preparing for a long-running scenario."
Netanyahu had threatened on Wednesday to turn shelter in place guidelines into official orders, enabling police to fine or arrest those who ignore them, unless the public stepped up compliance.