Israel postpones lockdown de-escalation due to gov’t divisions

By Pablo Duer

Jerusalem, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- Israel’s lockdown was due to end on Wednesday after almost a month but will continue until at least Sunday due to government disagreements over de-escalation measures.

The national confinement was imposed on 18 September and was initially set to be lifted on 10 October but was extended until Wednesday and has now been postponed again until midnight on Sunday.

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet debated the issue of de-escalation for several hours on Tuesday but failed to come to an agreement.

It is due to reconvene on Thursday to decide the country’s next steps, which will depend on the rate of contagion.

Initial stages of reopening would include daycare centers and some small businesses being allowed to resume and restaurants permitted to sell takeaway food.

Infections have been decreasing in recent days with 2,264 new cases detected on Tuesday.

“The experts said that the decision to ease the lockdown and begin a gradual reopening requires a clear, definitive and continuous decrease in morbidity and that this requires a few more days,” a joint statement from the prime minister’s office and health ministry said.

Local media reported that the main obstacle to lifting the measures was a lack of agreement between the various ministries, especially differences between health, education and finance officials.

Finance minister Israel Katz supported a partial closure which would allow small shops to reopen.

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