JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli leaders are weighing the option of enforcing a nationwide lockdown as officials continue to report record-breaking daily cases and the Jewish holidays swiftly approach.
The so-called coronavirus cabinet will meet on Thursday to discuss options on how to fight the crisis. The Health Ministry reported Thursday that 3,904 virus cases were diagnosed the previous day, making it the highest single-day spike in cases since the outbreak began. More than 1,000 people have died.
Israeli media reports that health officials are likely pushing for one of two options: an immediate nationwide lockdown that will last for a month, or a slightly less restrictive closure that does not involve completely shutting down the entire country.
The Health Ministry is expected to suggest banning all travel between cities, controlling the number of people present at family holiday gatherings, and closing schools and businesses.
Health officials fear hospitals will soon be overrun with virus cases if the government doesn’t enact restrictions soon, and warn that the situation inside of Israel’s hospitals is already dire.
The Finance Ministry strongly opposes a full lockdown and said in a proposal Wednesday that it would cost the country billions of shekels. Meanwhile, small business owners and self-employed Israelis held a meeting on Wednesday where they promised “anarchy” if the government shuts them down without guaranteeing financial compensations beforehand.
This week, Israeli police and soldiers began enforcing curfews on 40 cities and municipalities where infection rates are high. Some businesses have remained open in defiance of the curfew restrictions.
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