Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, November 13, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday there would be “no avoiding” a complete lockdown if the rate of coronavirus infections did not decrease.

“If we do not see an immediate improvement in the trendline there will be no avoiding a full closure,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks reported by Reuters.  “[The decision] is a matter of a few days [away]. And we are making all of the preparations for it.”

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli government approved via a telephone vote new, more severe restrictions on the public as part of the country’s effort to curb the outbreak.

Under the new directives, which went into effect on Wednesday night, Israelis are required to stay within 100 meters (110 yards) of their homes on penalty of heavy fines and even imprisonment. Essential services including supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and banks will operate as normal, though they will have to take measures to ensure that social-distancing instructions are followed.

Public transportation has been greatly reduced, and those employers whose employees are still coming to work are required to check workers’ temperatures.

-JNS

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