Israel's coronavirus cabinet last night decided to impose a night curfew on 40 'red' cities with the highest infection rates. Minister of Interior Arye Deri opposed the plan and voted against it. According to the new instructions, schools will also close in these 40 cities but residents will be allowed to go to work if they are in essential jobs.
The curfew will begin from seven in the evening and last until five in the morning.
The original plan had been to impose a complete lockdown in the 30 cities with the highest infection rates. But the coronavirus cabinet headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed the planned afternoon meeting to make the decision, following massive political pressure from the mayors of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) cities. Netanyahu held early evening consultations with Deri and Minister of Construction and Housing Yaakov Litzman on alternative plans for the 'red' cities, which are almost all the in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors.
In a strongly worded letter to Netanyahu the mayors of Bnei Brak, Elad, Emmanuel, and Beitar Illit had announced that they would not cooperate with the state's authorities on the lockdown.
Netanyahu tried to soothe the sense among the haredi public that the lockdown stemmed from discrimination against Israel's ultra-Orthodox population. He said, "Red cities are not chosen for political harassment. The leadership of the Arab public has asked that we impose restrictions on them. We have to take steps that will prevent infection. Don't listen to incitement."
The eight Israeli cities with the highest rate of infections that were due to go into full lockdown were: Umm El Fahm, Beit Shemesh, Elad, Bnei Brak, Tira, East Jerusalem neighborhoods, Lakya, and Kafr Kasem.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 7, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020