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Israel returns to confinement amid rebound in covid cases

Israeli authorities announced a new lockdown amid the increase in coronavirus cases.

Israel returned to full lockdown on Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has been steadily getting worse for months, as its government experiences moments of indecision and internal disputes.

The three-week lockdown , which began in the early afternoon, will require many businesses’ closure and imposes strict limits on movement and public gatherings. The closings coincide with major Jewish holidays, in which people generally visit family members and gather for mass religious services.

In a speech Thursday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures might be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases and at least 577 people hospitalized in serious condition.

It could happen that we have no choice but to impose stricter guidelines, ”Netanyahu said. “I will not quarantine the citizens of Israel for no reason and will not hesitate to order additional restrictions if necessary.

Under the new restrictions, almost all businesses open to the public will have to close. People will have to stay within one kilometer (0.6 miles) of their homes, but there are several exceptions, such as going out to buy food and medicine, going to work in a business closed to the public, attending protests and even providing essential care to a pet.

Israel has reported more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths. It currently has around 5,000 new infections a day, one of the highest per capita rates in the world.

Israel was one of the first countries to impose extreme lockdowns during the spring, ordering the closure of borders and most businesses, as well as confining people to their residences. The measures were successful in reducing the number of new cases, down to a few dozen a day during May.

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