Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned on March 17 that a national lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus is “inevitable.”
The Times of Israel reported that Erdan said in a conference call with security agency leaders and Israel’s national police chief to prepare for the move, arguing that doing so would “save many lives.”
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a March 18 interview with Channel 12 that he doesn’t think a national lockdown is necessary at this time, but that the government is ready to institute it as soon as possible if need be. He also warned that the Health Ministry could impose fines on those who don’t adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“Some in the ultra-Orthodox community and some in the minority community are not listening to the directives,” Netanyahu said.
Health Ministry Director Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said on March 17 after the ministry unveiled health guidelines that there could be instances of 100 new cases a day in Israel and that thousands of Israelis could die if the social distancing guidelines are not adhered to. The Israeli government has begun to engage in surveillance of its citizens to ensure that the social distancing guidelines are being followed.
On March 18, the Popular Immigration and Border Authority announced that it would no longer be allowing all foreigners to enter Israel, except for those who have Israel as their “center of life.” Israel’s borders with Jordan and Egypt also were shut down on March 18.
There are currently 433 cases of coronavirus in Israel, 100 of them coming in the past 24 hours as a result of increased testing. Netanyahu estimated that there could be as many as 3,000 to 5,000 tests per day over the next couple of weeks.