Israel’s Coronavirus Cabinet is set to convene Monday to deliberate on a proposal to tighten the current nationwide lockdown, including imposing massive restrictions on business activity.
According to Health Ministry officials, the new restrictions under consideration would strictly limit the ability of businesses to operate during the lockdown in both the private and public sectors, drastically reducing the number of employees able to leave home and travel to work during the lockdown.
The new measure, health officials hope, will drastically slow the spread of the coronavirus, but will also cause far more economic damage and likely lead to significantly higher levels of job loss and unemployment.
The plan is being pushed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), while Coronavirus Czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) oppose the imposition of new restrictions.
Some government ministers warned that the public has ‘lost faith’ in the government and the lockdown, making it difficult to impose tougher restrictions.
On Sunday, Gamzu told Kan that the moves to tighten the lockdown currently under consideration would reduce the spread of the virus. Gamzu also expressed optimism that the current lockdown would succeed.
“It’s not right to impose a lockdown which strangles people.”
The plan comes as a team of researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem released a report suggesting a significant increase in the number of coronavirus-related fatalities in Israel, even with the existing lockdown in place. With the current lockdown, the report claims, two thousand additional fatalities are expected by November. If a tighter lockdown is adopted, the number of new fatalities between now and November could be reduced to 1,000, the study claimed.
The lockdown, which began last Friday afternoon, is tentatively scheduled to last for three weeks, though senior health officials have suggested it may be extended until there is a significant decrease in the number of new infections diagnosed per day.