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Israel Intensifies Third COVID Lockdown, Pushes Ahead with Vaccination Campaign

Israeli Quarantine Hotel
Israeli Quarantine Hotel

Israel ramped up restrictions in its third COVID lockdown at midnight on Thursday. The tougher lockdown is supposed to continue for at least two weeks and comes 12 days into what some were calling a lockdown light.

This time it includes closing the education system completely except for special education, closing all non-essential work places, and shuttering all businesses except places like grocery stores and pharmacies.

Travel abroad for Israelis is being limited to those who have already purchased a ticket or get special permission. Israelis returning from abroad must quarantine for 10-14 days depending on whether or not they are willing to be tested.  Some are required to quarantine in hotels that the Home Front Command operates for that purpose.

Still in place, are the restrictions against hosting anyone in your home or going more than 1000 meters (about a half-mile) from your house except for reasons like medical treatment and being vaccinated.

Israel is continuing with its aggressive vaccination campaign.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that a new shipment of vaccines would arrive on Sunday and there would be enough vaccines in the country to inoculate the entire population over the age of 16 by the end of March.

Netanyahu said that Israel would be a “model nation” for exiting the pandemic.

“This is a breakthrough that will take us out of the coronavirus crisis and return us to life,” he said. “This is how we will open the economy, go back to work, to the synagogue…to the lives that we love and miss.”

Netanyahu is calling the vaccination campaign “Returning to Life”. So far, 1,700,000 Israelis have been vaccinated.  That’s around 20% of the population.

Meanwhile, the percentage of those testing positive for the virus began to drop slightly earlier this week even before the tougher lockdown was put in place.

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