Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday evening approved a detailed list of regulations for the country’s “tightened” COVID-19 lockdown, according to a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Israeli Health Ministry.

The stricter lockdown, which is to go into effect on midnight Thursday and remain in place until Jan. 21, was approved in principle on Tuesday and now awaits Knesset legislation to enter into force.

The education system will remain closed for the duration, and the economy will be largely shuttered. Special-education facilities will remain open, as will those places of employment deemed “essential” by the government. Outdoor gatherings will be restricted to 10 people and indoor gatherings to five (with exceptions for weddings, circumcisions and funerals, for which the figures will be 20 and 10, respectively).

Restrictions already in place will remain so, including the requirement for people to remain within 1 kilometer (1,093 yards) of their homes, the ban on visiting others’ residences and the closure of non-essential public and commercial places.

Israel entered its third national lockdown on Dec. 27 due to rising morbidity figures but did not fully close the education system or economy. While the country is currently the world leader in COVID-19 vaccinations per capita, the infection rate has remained worryingly high, leading the country’s National Coronavirus Project coordinator Nachman Ash to state on Dec. 30 that “I am very worried that if we race against the virus, we won’t be able to vaccinate enough people.”

According to Health Ministry data, the morbidity rate stood at 6.2 percent on Wednesday, with 7,830 new infections being confirmed.

“We need to impose a full lockdown immediately,” warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, pointing to the rapid spread of the highly contagious “U.K. variant” of the COVID-19 virus.

Netanyahu also called on the country’s citizens to make a “final effort,” combining a tightening lockdown with the ongoing vaccination campaign.

“The health system is continuing to vaccinate the citizens of Israel at a pace that is arousing the wonder of the entire world,” he said. “We are first in the world in vaccinations. We must also be first in the world in saving lives.”

JNS

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