Israel is expected to impose a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the coming week as the health ministry reported 4,146 new infections in the past 24 hours on Friday.
The figure represents the highest one-day figure in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic – the fourth day in a row of record infection numbers.
The country’s coronavirus cabinet on Thursday decided to implement a “three-stage, long-term plan” for reducing the impact of the virus, including a nationwide lockdown, according to a joint statement by the prime minister’s office and the health ministry.
During the first phase, people would not be allowed to go more than 500 metres from their homes; schools, kindergartens, shops and restaurants would all be closed.
According to media reports, the first phase will be implemented before the Jewish New Year holiday Rosh Hashanah starts on Friday evening next week and will last two weeks.
During phase two, movement between cities and gatherings will be restricted, while educational institutions, restaurants and shops remain closed.
Students from “grade 5 and up” will be taught remotely and citizens are generally advised to work from home.
This phase would also last two weeks, according to media reports.
The government is also considering suspending air travel almost completely during the lockdown, according to news site Ynet.
A return to the current looser restrictions is considered possible if infection numbers start to decline again.
The government would also “work to formulate an economic safety net for business owners and citizens that are expected to be hurt economically,” the joint statement said.
The measures have yet to be approved by the government, which will consider the matter on Sunday.
After having some initial success against the outbreak due to strict measures imposed by the government, infection numbers skyrocketed in May after restrictions were lifted.
So far, the country has recorded 147,379 cases and 1,086 COVID-19-related deaths.
The country’s economy has already been severely battered by the coronavirus pandemic, with unemployment rising to over 20 per cent in the summer.