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Israel to go Back Into Lockdown After Covid-19 Cases Surge

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday said a national lockdown would be reimposed for three weeks after coronavirus cases soared.

Mr Netanyahu said the 21-day lockdown, which would keep people to within 500 metres of their homes, would start on Friday and could be extended if cases remain high.

The move comes just hours before the start of the Jewish New Year and the high holidays.

“Our goal is to stop the increase, to reduce the contagion,” which was more than 4,000 new cases a day, Mr Netanyahu said.

The announcement comes despite protests from part of the ultra-Orthodox contingent in government against a lockdown during the holidays.

Under the guidelines, still to be finalised, indoor gatherings would be limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 20, meaning prayers at synagogues would be severely affected.

Movement will be limited to 500 metres from home and restaurants will be closed to on-site dining.

“I know these measures will exact a heavy price from all of us,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“This is not the holiday time we’re used to. We certainly won’t be able to celebrate with our extended families.”

Israel has had about 153,700 known cases of Covid-19 and more than 1,100 people have died from it.

The country has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the world.

Israel was initially successful at curbing the spread of the virus.

But as cases have risen, protests have broken out against Mr Netanyahu and the government’s handling of the pandemic.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets again on Sunday to call for his resignation over alleged graft and failure to manage the Covid-19 crisis.

They blocked roads to Ben Gurion airport, from where Mr Netanyahu flew to the US to attend the signing of agreements normalising ties with Bahrain and the UAE.

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