Thousands of police officers and IDF soldiers have been deployed across the country on Tuesday as Israel came under a second nationwide lockdown during the closing days of the Passover holiday in order to fend off the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday evening the lockdown was set to begin at 5pm Tuesday and last until Thursday at 5am, covering the end of Passover on Wednesday but not the Mimouna celebrations traditionally held by Jews of North African origin after the final day of the holiday.
During this time, Israelis are not allowed to leave their cities and communities, food stores are shuttered and all public transport is suspended. Israelis are not allowed to venture outside their homes for more than 100 meters, excluding cases of emergency. Non-Jewish communities are exempt from the lockdown.
"In addition to the checkpoints, hundreds of police vehicles and officers will scan all the routes across the country, while enforcing the restriction on traffic and identifying citizens who do not follow the guidelines,” Israel Police said in a statement.
“We emphasize, the public should avoid unnecessary encounters with the police and follow the directives so the public health can be maintained.”
In the meantime, Israelis swarmed supermarkets and food stores on Tuesday morning. Although the majority went shopping in line with Health Ministry directives, there were some who failed to follow the orders.
Yosef Attias, who stood in line at the Rami Levy supermarket in Ashkelon, said he doesn’t wear protective masks despite government orders because he finds them uncomfortable.
“The surgical mask is uncomfortable, and it suffocates me,” Attias said. “In my eyes it is nonsense. I have the mask in my hand because of the instructions but do not believe [it provides protection]. Everything is decided up above, it [the mask] doesn’t matter.”
Other customers complained that not only their fellow shoppers but also the staff at the store either did not wear protective masks at all or worn them in a way that left their nose and mouth exposed.
Rami Levy supermarket chain said in reply that any employee caught without a mask will receive a warning and repeat offenders may lose their job.