A new lockdown has come into effect in Israel Friday with tighter measures to try and curb the increase in coronavirus cases.

The lockdown is expected to last two weeks, including the holiday of Sukkot. It may be extended if infection rates do not slow considerably.

Following a late Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said,

“My friends, ministers, I know that it is late but in more than one sense, we are facing the moment of truth. The second wave of the coronavirus is hitting the entire world; it is also hitting us. The morbidity in Israel is rising. The number of severe cases is rising. To my sorrow, so is the number of deaths. Over the past two days we have heard from the experts that if we do not take tough and immediate measures, we will reach the edge of the abyss.”

“In order to save Israeli citizens’ lives, we are now called upon to impose a total lockdown for two weeks from this Friday until after Simchat Torah,” Netanyahu continued, “Afterwards we will continue with two additional weeks of lockdown, I hope with fewer restrictions, but I say in advance, it depends on the morbidity data. To the extent that situation allows, we will return quickly to the ‘traffic light’ plan and conduct a coronavirus routine. The goal is to lower the rate of morbidity; the explicit goal is to save many lives in Israel.”

Israelis won’t be permitted to travel more than a kilometre from their homes, with certain exemptions. And outbound flights have been grounded.

Under the new rules, nearly all businesses will be closed, with the exception of specific companies and factories designated as “essential” by the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Authority. Restaurants are permitted to operate on a home-delivery basis only.

Government officials say a tightened lockdown is necessary after a closure imposed a week ago failed to keep people at home.

According to the Times of Israel, the Health Ministry said Friday afternoon that a record-high 7,755 new virus cases were diagnosed a day earlier. The record number of diagnoses came after two consecutive days where the number of new infections neared 7,000.

The ministry said 29 people died since Thursday evening, taking the national reported death toll to 1,405.

A notably high 12.6 percent of the tests that came back Thursday were positive, the ministry said, with 63,342 tests carried out.

Always check official sources for the latest advice on COVID-19 restrictions