Israel hopes third lockdown will be last

By Pablo Duer

Jerusalem, Dec 27 (efe-epa).- Israel on Sunday began a third lockdown and drastically reduced social activity while authorities continue to roll out a mass vaccination campaign.

Third time lucky — at least this is what the Israeli government is hoping for.

The Israeli response to Covid-19 has gone from exemplary in the first wave around March and April to being among the top 50 in the world in terms of deaths per capita just months later. Today, it has to close down once again.

The government said the lockdown would last two weeks, but some experts believe it could be more like a month.

Authorities are aiming to bring the number of daily Covid-19 cases down to below 1,000 and the transmission rate to below R1.

In recent weeks, the average number of daily cases being detected in Israel, a county of nine million, has been around 4,000. The reproductive rate, measured by R1 if one person infects one other on average, was 1.3 in the general population but 1.7 in Ultraorthodox communities.

This third lockdown is relatively more relaxed than the first, during which citizens were not permitted to stray more than 100 meters from their door.

The limit on freedom of movement this time around is one kilometer.

The majority of the restrictions coming into force Sunday resemble those in place during the second lockdown period, which spells the closure, once again, of non-essential business and a ban on household mixing.

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