Israeli officials hoping to halt a rise in coronavirus cases announced sweeping new restrictions Friday, including who can use gyms and which businesses can stay open on weekends.
The measures being imposed by the Israeli government come amid 1,900 new reported infections Thursday. By late May, Israel had largely contained its coronavirus outbreak following a two-month lockdown — but cases are now on the rise again as the restrictions lifted.
Under new measures, gyms and exercise studios will be closed except for use by competitive athletes. Beaches will be closed on weekends, beginning later this month.
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Stores, malls, barber shops, beauty salons and tourist sites will close on weekends, starting Friday. And public gatherings will be limited to 10 people indoors or 20 outside.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the government also said restaurants would have until early Tuesday to switch to takeout and delivery only.
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Restaurants were initially ordered to halt seated dining by Friday evening, but the government later backtracked after an uproar from owners. Restaurateurs said they already had fresh food for the weekend rush and would suffer major financial losses if they had to throw it out.
Israel’s government announced the restrictions after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “interim steps” were needed to avoid another general lockdown.
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Any violations, The Associated Press said, would be considered a criminal offense.
Despite the growing outbreak, Israel’s death toll from the coronavirus has remained low. Out of the more than 45,000 confirmed cases, 384 have been fatal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.