Israel closes gyms, bars, event halls, cultural shows amid sharp coronavirus spread

PM Netanyahu convened the Cabinet today to discuss the necessary restrictions in light of the sharp increase in the morbidity of the coronavirus.

“We are required to address the coronavirus epidemic on the ground,” said PM Netanyahu at the start of the meeting. “The plague is spreading – it is as clear as daylight. The numbers are rising steeply each day and with it, the number of severely ill patients”.

“Today, there are about 90 severely ill patients, and that doubles every day. If we do not act now, we will have hundreds and possibly thousands of serious patients in the coming weeks… That is why we are required to take immediate steps,” Netanyahu added.

The Cabinet decided unanimously on the following restrictions in accordance with the recommendations of the Health Ministry:

* The closure of event halls, clubs and bars.

* Restaurants – No more than 20 people in a closed space and no more than 30 in an open area at widely spaced tables

* Gyms and public swimming pools are to be closed.

* Cultural shows are to be closed.

* Hotels and tourism – Clubs and bars on hotel grounds shall not operate. Restaurants and dining halls may have no more than 20 people in a closed space.

* Houses of worship – No more than 19 people.

* Other gatherings – Up to 20 participants, with 2 meters’ distance between people and the wearing of masks.

* Organized sports to be permitted without spectators (No change from the existing situation).

* Summer schools, camps and youth activities – To be allowed only for toddlers up to the 4th grade. The Cabinet authorizes the Health Ministry Director-General to decide regarding educational activities for the 5th grade and up in consultation with the Higher Education Minister.

* Busses – Up to 20 people per bus. The Cabinet authorizes the Minister of Transportation to decide on another number with the agreement of the Health Minister and the head of the National Security Council (to take effect immediately).

* Work in government ministries and companies – At least 30% of work from home, according to rules to be determined by the Civil Service Commissioner.

* Beaches will not be closed but beach-goers will be restricted to certain hours.

There have been more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, and 334 deaths.

As of Monday evening, there are 12,359 active cases, including 88 in serious condition, among them 35 who are intubated.

There were 818 people diagnosed with the virus on Sunday; since midnight Monday, another 691 have tested positive.