COVID crisis deepens as infections skyrocket and curfews enforced on dozens of Israeli cities

Israel is attempting a new tact to get its skyrocketing coronavirus infections under control — curfews in cities that have the highest number of infections.

The curfews are a compromise from a proposed full lockdown of 40 cities and communities, which are mainly ultra-Orthodox or Arab. The nightly lockdowns begin at 7 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. and prohibit residents of those areas from leaving their homes except to buy essential items. Then during the day residents are free to leave their communities, but schools and most businesses will be closed.

The new rules will last for a week and will be reconsidered by the cabinet after that.

The number of new coronavirus cases hit a record on Wednesday at more than 3,900.

“The rate of morbidity in the ‘red’ cities in Israel is among the highest in the world,” coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu said. “Even the rates in ‘green’ cities [those with the lowest infection rates] are high. We must act to protect our people.”

But in an ironic twist, hours after the curfews went into effect, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, coronavirus czar Prof Ronni Gamzu, Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch, Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy and other top ministry officials were all sent into quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed COVID patient

“Prof. Gamzu will continue to manage the struggle against the coronavirus from isolation and emphasizes the need for utmost caution, and the need to enter quarantine, even after light exposure, in order to prevent the possibility of infection,” his office said in a statement.

The compromise on the curfew, though flaunted on the first day by many in those areas, was the result of politics entering the decision making process. The ultra-Orthodox Knesset members threatened to blow up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition if their cities were put under a full lockdown.

A full lockdown for the whole nation is still in the cards for the fall holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashanah on Sept. 18.

Despite the curfew, many businesses remained open police even failed to set up roadblocks in some areas.

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