Israel will return to a full lockdown on Friday in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus as the number of cases has continued to increase for months throughout the country.
The three-week lockdown will begin at 2 p.m., closing many businesses and limiting public gatherings. The move comes just hours before the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays when people usually attend religious services and gather with family and friends.
Under the order, people must remain within 1 kilometer, or 0.6 miles, from their home, except for when shopping for food and medicine, attending protests and going to work at a closed business, among others.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE warned on Thursday that additional measures may be needed to prevent hospitals in the country from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said, according to The Associated Press. “I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”
Israel has confirmed 175,256 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 1,169 fatalities. It is currently reporting around 5,000 cases per day, making it one of the highest infection rates per capita in the world, according to the AP.
The country was one of the first in the world to impose strict lockdowns during the spring. However, authorities have announced several restrictions in recent months that have been ignored or reversed.
In Tel Aviv on Thursday, hundreds of people protested the new lockdown, including doctors and scientists, who called the move ineffective, the AP reported.