Israel has one of the worst rates of daily coronavirus infections per capita in the world. It recorded nearly 14,000 new infections in the past 48 hours. At least 1,335 have died due to Covid-19 in the country during pandemy. Many Israelis have called on the government to take drastic measures. After imposing the second nationwide lockdown, the government ordered new restrictions starting Friday. All nonessential businesses and synagogues are required to close. Regulations will force the majority of worshipers to pray outdoors during the day’s long services and fast, but only up to 20 people per prayer group. Residents will also have to remain within a one-kilometer radius from their homes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the second lockdown this week, saying at the start of a late-night cabinet meeting on Wednesday that Israel was facing “a moment of truth” with morbidity rates and severe cases rapidly increasing.
The latest measures prompted finance and business leaders in the government and private sector to warn of dire economic consequences. Nearly a fifth of the Israeli workforce is unemployed or on unpaid leave, according to the Israeli National Employment Service. Israel’s chief economist said a closure of three weeks could cost the Israeli economy over $10 billion.