Israel Police are putting their noses to the grindstone these days to enforce the Health Ministry's orders banning mass-gatherings across the country as part of the measures to stave off the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The local pub on Lod's main avenue is usually teeming with life during afternoon hours and despite the ongoing virus crisis, there was an atmosphere of "business as usual" at the place.
Patrons did start leaving the place as rumors started spreading that police were on their way to enforce the new directive prohibiting gatherings of over 10 people due to the spread of the pathogen worldwide and in Israel.
The officers approached customers and kindly asked them to leave.
"You have to understand that we're not only doing this because of orders, we're doing this for you," said one of the officers to the pub owner.
Although serving in Lod Police was never an easy job, Chief Inspector Roie Salem says the task only seems to grow more complicated in these times of a global pandemic.
"I've been on the force for many years now and have been through many challenges, but the coronavirus issue has affected me the most," said the 34-year-old. "I think it's because this situation affects the entire population. I can hear the pleas of the civilians, I see their side, but there are restrictions in place that must be enforced."
Local law enforcement is mainly occupied with two tasks these days – upholding the ban on public gatherings of over ten people and quarantine of civilians who recently returned from overseas.
Walking down the streets of Lod with his officers, Salem tries to explain why some parts of the city seem to run as usual.
"The city's Arab public is less exposed to the media and therefore is less compliant with the orders," says Salem. "Most of the public complies with the orders, but we know that the infection could spread because of a single business."
Salem's team has a list of some 400 civilians who are supposed to be found at home quarantine, 140 of them returned from overseas recently and failed to report to the Ministry of Health.
The team gear up and leave in a vehicle equipped with more significant measures in case a civilian refuses quarantine.
The officers knock on the door, the tenant tells them their name and how many days they have left in quarantine, the policemen check the citizen's name off the list and go to the next address.
"We've received information that there's a breach of Health Ministry orders going on in this residence. We've warned them next times there will financial sanctions against them," said Salem.
The landlord claimed had she forgotten to register her daughter in the Health ministry's database. The daughter promised the officers she won't leave the house for the quarantine period before Salem and his team left.
Salem was able to find a silver lining in this dire situation as the number of violent crimes reported in the city decreased significantly in recent weeks.
"We see much fewer people in public spaces these days," says Salem. "The Health Ministry's orders are life-saving. We expect the public to adhere to them and act responsibly to stop the spread of the virus."