Government votes to extend emergency powers, lockdown

Despite criticism from some ministers, government extends emergency powers and lockdown restrictions for another week.

David Rosenberg ,

Police enforce lockdown near Jerusalem
Police enforce lockdown near Jerusalem
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The Israeli government voted late Tuesday night to extend the state of emergency currently in place, along with the ongoing nationwide lockdown.

In the telephone vote, which took place just before midnight, ministers voted to extend the state of emergency and restrictions on public activity – including mass gatherings, protests, and synagogue prayer groups – by one week. The restrictions are now set to end next Tuesday night.

The extension leaves in place all the restrictions of the ongoing lockdown, including the ban on travelling more than 1,000 meters from one’s house, with the exception of ‘essential needs’, such as purchasing food and medicine.

As the government voted on the extension, protesters demonstrated in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem against the limits placed on public demonstrations.

Some ministers criticized the decision Tuesday night to extend the lockdown, noting the decline in infection rates.

“It is impossible to lock up an entire country for an extended period of time,” one senior minister said, according to Channel 12.

Echoing comments by Coronavirus Czar Ronni Gamzu, ministers called for the replacement of the nationwide lockdown with “differential restrictions”, which would ease the limits on cities and towns with lower rates of infection, while keeping most restrictions in place on areas with high levels of infection.

“We need to move to a differential model, and impose limits on ‘red’ cities, and to do so faster than we anticipated,” one minister is quoted by Channel 12 as saying.

There are currently ninety-two cities and towns listed as “red” – indicating they have high infection rates, with 107 additional municipalities listed as “orange”, indicating medium-to-high infection rates. Combined, at least five million people, or over half of Israel’s population, live in cities with high or medium-to-high infection rates.