Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis the government will start lifting COVID-19 restrictions as they have produced “good results” that have led to a slowdown in infections.
“Our good results enable us today to start taking steps in the opposite direction – not a tightening, but an easing,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks on Saturday, April 18.
Israel has been in a semi-lockdown since March 14, with education suspended, non-essential business closed, and citizens encouraged to stay home and not venture more than 100 meters from their residence. The country tightened restrictions during Passover, forcing all businesses to close, banning intercity travel, and extending curfew hours. 0
Some neighborhoods, like the ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak where up to 40% of the population was thought to be infected with COVID-19, have been sealed off from surrounding areas and subjected to stricter lockdown conditions.
Israel has 13,362 confirmed COVID-19 cases and recorded 171 deaths from the disease, but Health Ministry data shows the infection-rate curve is flattening.
Israel’s Cabinet approved today the easing of COVID-19 curbs, as introduced by Netanyahu on Saturday. As a result, open-air, socially-distanced prayers in groups of 19 will be allowed, and people will be able to travel within a 500-meter radius of their home or workplace for prayer or sports. Businesses can increase staffing from 15% to 30% or to a maximum of ten employees at a time and a new “purple badge” standard is set to determine which businesses can reopen.
Morocco, which has only recorded 2,820 confirmed cases of COVID-19, has taken a dramatically different approach to Israel, extending the nationwide lockdown for an additional month, until May 20.
A government council met on April 18 to discuss COVID-19 measures and decided to extend the country’s lockdown to include the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as many had expected and the minister of health had suggested.
Moroccan citizens and residents are only permitted to leave their homes to purchase groceries or medicines, seek medical treatment, or for work deemed essential and must wear face masks in public.
Under the prolonged state of emergency measures, education facilities, sporting clubs, entertainment venues, and restaurants remain closed. All international and domestic flights, intercity travel, border crossings, and maritime travel are also restricted or suspended indefinitely.