People are shown on March 22 walking through Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, where numerous vendors had closed due to coronavirus. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel Readying Full Lockdown as Coronavirus Cases Mount

Israel’s cabinet has approved additional coronavirus-related regulations as the country’s number of cases of COVID-19 – the illness caused by the pathogen – raced past 2,000 Wednesday morning and the death toll rose to five. The new directives, reportedly set to take effect on Wednesday night, would bring the nation to a near-complete standstill, with people allowed to leave their homes only if engaging in what is considered essential work or heading to a supermarket or pharmacy. Otherwise, individuals will be permitted outside just for brief walks within a maximum distance of 100 meters from home. It comes as the Jewish state’s Chief Rabbinate called for a national prayer day on Wednesday, raising concerns that the public would not abide by existing restrictions preventing all non-political gatherings, including synagogue services. Meanwhile, Israel’s High Court of Justice has lifted an injunction that temporarily halted a controversial government surveillance program using counter-terror technologies to track the cell phones of those who might have come in contact with coronavirus carriers. The injunction was rescinded after the establishment of a parliamentary oversight committee. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that one million Israelis could become infected with COVID-19 unless more severe measures were implemented.

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