COVID-19: Israel enforces second lockdown, New Zealand prolongs restrictions

After a fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases in Israel, the government on Sunday (local time) announced a three-week lockdown from September 18. In a related development, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced an extension of coronavirus restrictions for one more week until September 21.

The Times of Israel has reported that the lockdown will take force at 2 pm on Friday, hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah. “The medical experts told me to close [the accordion] when the health system raises a red flag,” The Times of Israel quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying at a press conference.

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“They’re warning us about the jump in the number of seriously [sick] patients and from the winter.”

He further said that the schools will be closed from Friday, and there will be strict limitations in place for businesses and public sector employers.

“I know these steps have a high price for all of us and we can’t celebrate [the holidays] with the whole family,” he said while urging the citizens to wear face masks and follow the social distancing guidelines. This is the second time the Israeli government had to enforce lockdown in the country in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For three months, I tried to avoid a lockdown. I did everything so that we could live alongside the coronavirus, with rules here and there,” he said. “Under the circumstances that were created, we had no choice.”

Citing the latest Health Ministry figures, The Times of Israel reported that there were 2,715 new cases confirmed on Saturday — rates are typically depressed over the weekend. Meanwhile, around 4,000 new cases of coronavirus were registered per day at the end of last week.

Meanwhile, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern announced that starting from this Monday, physical distancing requirements on flights and public transport are being eased, but face masks still need to be worn. On Saturday, thousands of protesters participated in a peaceful rally against coronavirus restrictions in Auckland.

According to the latest data by the Johns Hopkins University, 28,841,789 people around the world have tested positive of coronavirus and 921,491 people have succumbed to the disease so far.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 | Top 10 developments in India this Monday morning

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