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Coronavirus cabinet pushes for immediate closure as daily cases near 7,000


A beggar sits and asks for money amid the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A beggar sits and asks for money amid the coronavirus crisis, Jerusalem, 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

According to the ministry, some 31 coronavirus patients have died in the last 24 hours.

The coronavirus cabinet is set to convene Wednesday in another attempt to formulate a new set of stepped-up restrictions to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, as nearly 7,000 new cases were diagnosed the day before.

The cabinet meeting disbanded on Tuesday night after nearly nine hours over disagreements over how prayers and demonstrations would be handled during a tighter closure than the one currently in place.
The parties reportedly tried to reach an agreement overnight and then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the ministers again Wednesday morning to try again. After the meeting, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said that he would support an outline that would limit the number of participants at  demonstrations.
There were 6,923 people infected with the virus on Tuesday, the Health Ministry showed Wednesday morning - some 11.3% of those screened. Israel has now had 200,041 cases since the start of the pandemic. Moreover, there were 171 people on ventilators. a 
According to the ministry, some 31 coronavirus patients have died in the last 24 hours.
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu spoke Wednesday morning to Radio Jerusalem and said that from his perspective, “restrictions at this point should be about everything, including demonstrations… There is no gathering that is not contagious. It is clear that when you take off your mask and shout at demonstrations, or if in the heat of the demonstration it falls down, then it is clear what happens.”
He added that the country will not open fast like last time - not the education system, restaurants or leisure activities.
"Everything will be graded and slow,’ he said. “It depends on two parameters: a low coefficient of infection and a decrease in the level of morbidity that will reduce the number of serious patients.”
He expressed frustration that the government left the cabinet meeting on Tuesday without any decisions and said “it does not look good.”
At the meeting on Tuesday, there were many ideas considered, such as reducing employee numbers in the private business sector activity by 50%; reducing public sector workers to emergency numbers only; prohibiting demonstrations; closing synagogues; banning gatherings over the Sukkot holiday; closing down marketplaces, including those for the ritual four species used on Sukkot by religious Jews; and heightened enforcement on restrictions for mikveh (ritual bath) use, which are widely used by men the day before Yom Kippur.
There is also discussion that Ben-Gurion Airport will shut down immediately - even before Yom Kippur.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi proposed to establish a team of professionals from the Health and Justice ministries and the Police to examine how to create an outline that police can enforce and that will be healthy for the public.
The proposal was reportedly discussed in the morning and it seems that ministers have accepted the idea in theory. Now, the concentration will be on what the restrictions will be- perhaps an agreed upon number of demonstrators or space between them as well as prayer goers.
"In a democracy, the right to demonstrate and protest is sacred," Ganz wrote on social media Wednesday morning. "The demand of those who want to pray, as the Jewish people have practiced for thousands of years, is also sacred and just. The demand of those who want to earn a decent living, return to work and take care of their child is real and just. But no less important is the right to health and security.”
He said that the coronavirus cabinet will present  limited outlines for prayers and demonstrations and “we will back up the Health Ministry and their decisions and act responsibly and sensitively in order to preserve the lives and health of the citizens. These are not ordinary days and I am sure everyone will accept this with understanding."
But opposition leader Yair Lapid has other ideas. He attacked Netanyahu and said that while both prayer and demonstrations are important, they are not the same.
"Netanyahu connects them only because it serves him,” Lapid stressed. “Religious and secular people will hate each other. He cultivates this hatred … so that we forget that the whole issue is not related to religious and secular people at all, but to the difference between open and closed places.
“People can demonstrate in open places,” he continued. “They also behave responsibly, wear masks, maintain social distance. People can also pray on holidays in open spaces according to the same rules."
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri also commented on the issue again on Wednesday: "Synagogues must be open on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.”
At the meeting, the minister walked out when his colleagues discussed possibly shutting synagogues as early as Thursday.
Deri had said that prayer could take place in open spaces and that synagogue prayer could close entirely on other days - just not Yom Kippur. 

“When the Health Ministry prevents gatherings in closed spaces, we will all pray in the public space,” he continued. “During the closure, anyone who wants to demonstrate will do so near his home.”
Recall, on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting, Deri said, “We are in a life-saving situation. I am willing to go to the rabbis and persuade them to pray more in the public space.” But he said he cannot convince the rabbis to give up the tradition of hakafot if demonstrations continue as usual.
“I am accountable to the public,” he continued, “I will do my best for God. We are a Jewish and democratic government, and for me Judaism is first and most important. If the government decides “no” to praying on Yom Kippur and yes to demonstrations, I do not know that I can stay in such a non-Jewish government

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