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After Netanyahu Quarantined, Israeli Cabinet Greenlights New Coronavirus Restrictions
Israeli firefighters spray disinfectant at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site in Tel Aviv on March 20. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

After Netanyahu Quarantined, Israeli Cabinet Greenlights New Coronavirus Restrictions

Hours after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday entered quarantined, his cabinet approved more stringent measures aimed at curbing the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The prime minister was urged to self-isolate as a precaution after possibly coming into contact with a carrier of the virus during a parliamentary session last Thursday. The updated regulations require businesses to further reduce their on-site workforce to a maximum of 15% or 10 employees, whichever is greater, and reiterate that employees must keep the required “social distance” of at least 2 meters between each other. The regulations also include a ban on prayer quorums and stricter limits on the number of individuals permitted to attend a wide range of religious ceremonies. The government appears to be focusing on ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, communities such as Bnei Brak, which is located just east of Tel Aviv and where one-third of those screened have tested positive for coronavirus. Other hotspots include densely populated religious enclaves in Jerusalem. Many have accused haredim of ignoring, if not purposely flouting, government-imposed measures. It is estimated that the ultra-Orthodox account for half of Israel’s confirmed coronavirus cases, which as of Tuesday morning stood at 4,831. Eighteen people have died from COVID-19 – the respiratory disease caused by the pathogen – all of whom reportedly had pre-existing medical conditions. Israelis were previously instructed to remain at home save for a few exceptions like engaging in essential work, purchasing food and medicines, or briefly conducting solo outdoor physical activity within 100 meters of one’s domicile. “I wish you could look back on this in a few weeks and make fun of me, but I can’t see us ending this ordeal without many victims,” the director-general of Israel’s Health Ministry said Monday. “Unfortunately, I still think the reality we will have to deal with will be thousands of dead.”

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