JERUSALEM — Israel has entered a tightened lockdown as coronavirus cases surge despite an early and rapid vaccination campaign.
Most schools and businesses were closed starting Friday, with people required to remain within 1,000 meters (yards) from home except for essential needs. Public gatherings are heavily restricted and public transportation is limited. The restrictions are to last for at least two weeks.
Thousands of police will be deployed to enforce the restrictions, with roadblocks set up on major thoroughfares. Israel was already in its third national lockdown since the start of the pandemic.
Deputy Police Commissioner Ziv Sagiv called on people to stay home, saying police would operate in “every possible way” to enforce the restrictions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late Thursday that Israel is on track to vaccinate all citizens over the age of 16 by March. He called on Israelis to make “one last big effort” to combat the pandemic by adhering to the lockdown.
Israel has already vaccinated nearly 20% of its population of 9 million and is on track to be one of the first countries to emerge from the coronavirus crisis. It has reported 474,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 3,565 deaths.