Tel Aviv grinds to a relative halt after government restrictions aimed at combating the coronavirus outbreak greatly limited freedom of movement. (Charles Bybelezer/The Media Line

Israel Imposes Near-total Lockdown, Deploys Police to Help with Enforcement

New coronavirus regulations imposed by the Israeli government took effect Wednesday evening. The updated guidelines prevent individuals from leaving home unless engaged in critical work or venturing to the supermarket or pharmacy. Otherwise, people are allowed outside only for brief periods of solo activity within 100 meters from their domicile. “The number of those infected doubles every three days. In two weeks, we’ll have thousands [of coronavirus cases] – many of them life-threatening,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned after the regulations were introduced. “If we don’t see an immediate improvement in the trend, we will have no choice but to declare [in a matter of days] a full closure.” Meanwhile, police – including those generally serving along the border with the West Bank – have been deployed to enforce the restrictions, with violators facing stiff fines and, in extreme instances, jail terms of up to six months. On Thursday afternoon, the Health Ministry announced that the nationwide number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 – the illness caused by the pathogen – had risen 2,666. Eight Israelis have died.

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