Israel orders closure of non-essential stores to contain coronavirus



Israel ordered today and starting tomorrow the closure of businesses and non-essential establishments to contain the coronavirus, including cafes, restaurants or shopping malls.

Acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the goal is "to guarantee vital services" to keep the economy running and in turn combat the spread of the pandemic, which in the country is close to two hundred infected.

The restrictions include the ban on meetings of more than ten people, but they do not represent a complete strike: supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, hospitals, productive industries and essential stores will continue to operate.

The entire leisure, entertainment or cultural sector -including cinemas- will be stopped, but private companies are not obliged to close.

Israel faces the coronavirus emergency in the middle of a political blockade, after three inconclusive elections in less than a year that have not thrown a parliamentary majority to form a government, a process that the president, Reuvén Rivlin, will deliberate tomorrow in consultations with the different parties. .

Faced with the situation, Netanyahu appealed to create "a national emergency government" and invited the centrist Beny Gantz, the far-right Avigdor Lieberman and the laborist Amir Peretz to join an executive.

"There is no time to play politics," he said, and called on them to negotiate "this very night."

Israelis infected with COVID-19 have risen to 193, and the Ministry of Health expects more infected in the coming days.

So far there have been no deaths, and tens of thousands of people are quarantined for prevention.

The authorities adopted other restrictive measures this week: on Friday they closed schools and universities, to which nurseries and special education centers will join from tomorrow.

Sports competitions were also canceled, and air traffic has been reduced to a minimum: Israelis returning from any point outside the country have to be quarantined for fourteen days, and foreigners must prove that they have a valid residence to be isolated for two weeks. if you want to enter.

The occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, closely connected to Israel, has 38 diagnosed cases. Most in the city of Bethlehem, blocked to prevent contagion.

Gaza, under Israeli blockade since 2007, has not registered any cases, although more than 2,600 people are isolated as a precaution.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules de facto in the strip, today announced the closure of border crossings with Israel and Egypt as prevention, while schools and universities will remain closed until the end of March.

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