(July 23, 2020 / JNS) Israel’s Knesset announced on Thursday morning that it had passed the “Major Coronavirus Law,” granting the government “special powers for dealing with the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
According to the temporary legislation, which is to take effect on Aug. 10 and remain in effect until June 30, 2021, the government will have the authority to override the Knesset to impose restrictions on the public to curb COVID-19 infection.
The law, which passed its third and final reading in the plenum by a 48-35 vote, states that the government will be permitted to declare a state of emergency if it is convinced by health authorities that the virus is spreading and endangering public health. The government will be able to extend the state of emergency every 60 days with the approval of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee until the law expires, but must cancel the state of emergency if the circumstances that justify it no longer exist.
The measures the government will be authorized to institute in the event that it declares a state of emergency include restricting the conduct of individuals and businesses, as well as limitations on the size of gatherings and events.
The Knesset will be able to reverse the emergency regulations, but only a week, and less than two weeks, after the Cabinet approves them.
The legislation, which comes on the heels of the Knesset coronavirus committee, headed by Knesset member Yifat Shasha-Biton, voting on Tuesday to cancel a government regulation barring dine-in restaurant service, renders the committee powerless to again reverse such a decision.
As of Thursday evening, according to Health Ministry data, there were 33,097 active coronavirus cases in Israel, and the death toll had reached 440.
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