Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Amit Shabi

Cabinet ministers on Thursday night decided on a series of additional restrictions on Israeli citizens in order to prevent a total lockdown, in light of the sharp increase in cases of coronavirus.

Most regulations will take effect on Friday at 5:00 p.m., including a lockdown on weekends, with the exception of going out for essential purposes such as food purchases, pharmacies, optician shops and laboratories for repairs of telecommunications products.

All other stores, including malls, will not be permitted to operate on weekends.

In addition, presence at the beaches, which will be closed, will be prohibited. This provision will take effect from next weekend.

As part of the lockdown on weekends, there will be no limit on the distance one is permitted to go when leaving one’s home. In addition, there will be no restrictions on swimming pools in hotels, which are intended for hotel guests only.

Along with these restrictions, it was decided to close gyms as well as institutes used for sports or dance activities.

Restaurants will only be permitted to provide pick-up and delivery service, without seating inside the restaurant.

In restaurants operating in hotels, the number of people will be limited to 35% of the maximum permitted occupancy, in order to allow the regular operation of the hotels.

Alongside this, restrictions on gatherings were also added. The Director General of the Ministry of Health will sign an order permitting meetings of up to 10 people in a closed space and up to 20 people in an open space (excluding workplaces and nuclear families).

The government authorized the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense, after consultation with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education, to make a decision on restrictions on the education system and on the closure of summer schools. The decisions will be made public upon their adoption.

It was also decided to reduce the hours of customer service in government ministries and to move to online services, along with a reduction to 50% attendance in government ministries.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the start of the Cabinet meeting, "In recent days we have dealt specifically with the economic issue, both in trying to bring a long-term plan to businesses and the self-employed to give them security, and in the incentives we want to give the economy in the immediate time period."

"I ask before anything else that by next Thursday, one week from today, each minister bring a plan of his ministry for the safe opening of the economy. That is a week’s time. I ask you to get organized because our goal is to flatten the curve, get in control and get out of this phase safely,” added Netanyahu.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel called during the meeting not to shut down the country’s educational institutions.

“There is a lack of transparency, there must be uniform criteria in deciding where closures occur. I call to leaving the early childhood centers and schools open as much as is possible. Do not rush to close things, it will paralyze the economy," Hendel warned.

During the meeting, Gantz and the other Blue and White ministers announced that they were joining Education Minister Yoav Galant's position and are opposed to closing the education system.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "We are going to a full lockdown. What are you, blind? Do you not understand that?”