Israel to begin three-week nationwide lockdown on Rosh Hashanah eve

Stacked chairs outside a restaurant on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem

Israel is the first developed country in the world to impose a second lockdown. In addition, he said, "If we obey the rules, we will definitely be able to conquer the corona".

People will not be allowed more than 500 metres from their homes, with the exception of travelling to workplaces.

With lockdown starting on the eve of the Jewish New Year, the PM said, "These are not the holidays we are used to".

Some businesspeople still trying to recover from the first lockdown in the spring say they'll be forced to close unless the government offers immediate and substantial relief.

Netanyahu has also been lambasted for seeming to cave to pressure from various interest groups, including most recently his ultra-Orthodox governing partners, who appeared to have convinced him to relax a pinpointed, city-based lockdown plan that would have mostly affected ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities.

Netanyahu, who has faced increasing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus crisis, said he instructed his finance minister to come up with a new economic package to assist businesses hurt by the lockdown. Israelis typically hold large family gatherings and pack synagogues during the important fast of Yom Kippur later this month, settings that officials feared could trigger new outbreaks.

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In his resignation letter, he said: "This wrongs and scorns hundreds of thousands of citizens".

The Israeli PM justified the government's decision to impose a second lockdown during the Jewish Holidays by citing that medical experts had raised the alarm over the increase in seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man wearing a protective mask and shield against the coronavirus, walks along a street in Jerusalem on September 11, 2020.

At the time, the country was praised for its swift recovery from the first wave of the virus. There are now more than 150,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deceased in Israel, which has a population of about 9 million people.

Earlier on Sunday, Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party resigned in protest of the lockdown's timing, which he said was an affront to Israel's Jews.

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