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Israel readies for subdued holidays as it enters second lockdown

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, typically celebrated with large family meals, Israelis prepared for minimized festivities as the country braced for its second nationwide lockdown amid soaring numbers of coronavirus cases.

Tel Aviv, 18 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) — On the eve of the Jewish New Year, typically celebrated with large family meals, Israelis prepared for minimized festivities as the country braced for its second nationwide lockdown amid soaring numbers of coronavirus cases.

The three-week lockdown is set to begin at 2 pm (11 GMT) on Friday.

The restrictions will last through the entire Jewish High Holiday season.

Ministers who voted in favor of the measure feared that the virus would otherwise spread in large family gatherings and mass prayers during the festivities.

During the lockdown, Israelis are required to remain within 1 kilometer of their homes, though there are exceptions to the rule such a travelling to work, going to buy essential items or practicing sport.

Schools and kindergartens have been closed since Thursday. Many businesses such as hotels, shopping malls, leisure centers, beauty salons, sports centers and swimming pools are prohibited from opening.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and food delivery services are to continue to operate.

Gatherings are to be restricted to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors.

Ministers opposing the second lockdown said it would be a “catastrophe” for Israel’s economy, with hundreds of thousands more unemployed.

Israel imposed its first lockdown in mid-March, then eased the measures in May, and has since seen a second wave of coronavirus infections.

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