Israel goes into a third lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

Restrictions include a ban on travelling more than 1km from home


A healthcare worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Clalit Health Services in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, on December 23, 2020. - Israel has ordered 14 million coronavirus vaccine doses -- covering seven million people, as two doses are required per person -- from US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and US biotech firm Moderna. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel is set to enter into its third nationwide lockdown later today as cases surge.

The country, which emerged from two lockdowns earlier this year, saw confirmed cases rise to 398,664, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Restrictions, set to take effect at 5pm Sunday and last two weeks, include a ban on household mixing and travelling more than 1km from home. 

The distance rule - which, if broken, carries a penalty of NIS 500 (£116) - allows for exceptions including going to demonstrations, getting vaccinated or attending a funeral, wedding or brit milah. 

Classes for pupils in grades 5 to 10 will be brought online and all non-essential shops and businesses will be closed. Guided tours will also be banned and all memorial sites, nature reserves, national and memorial sites, and zoos will be closed.

Around 280,000 people in Israel received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the last week since the start of the country's mass vaccination programme, the country’s health minister, Yuli Edelstein, said Sunday.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a positive tone as he said on Saturday evening that he is hoping to achieve 150,000 daily vaccinations by next weekend. 

"Since everyone needs two injections, after one month we will have vaccinated 2.25 million Israeli citizens. There is nothing like this in the world.

“Please, we are heading to a huge vaccine operation unlike anything in the world and I ask you at the same time to do the short and tightened lockdown. 

“The two things together will get us out of the coronavirus first in the world. Have a good week."

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