Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on Monday announced an absolute lockdown for the first days of the one-week Jewish Passover holiday, which starts at sundown on Wednesday.
To prevent a repetition of a mass outbreak of coronavirus that followed the Purim holiday in early March, Israelis would not be allowed to leave their neighbourhoods from 1700 GMT on Tuesday until 0500 on Friday.
They would not be allowed to leave their homes at all from 1600 GMT on Wednesday, the eve of the holiday celebrated by a normally festive family dinner, until 0500 GMT the next day.
“We are in a fateful week. There is certainly an improving trend,” he told a televised news conference.
“But whoever thinks we can end (the lockdown) with ‘Bam!’ and it’s over with, is making a bitter mistake.
“Pesach WILL NOT be Purim”, he added, using the Hebrew word for Passover.
Police units would be dispersed throughout the country to enforce the total lockdown.
A gradual release of the lockdown, which had thus far been partial, would only be possible after Passover, Netanyahu said. (dpa/NAN)