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The country, with a population of nine million, has the world’s highest coronavirus infection rate per capita, according to an AFP tally. Health officials have recorded more than 215,000 coronavirus infections and 1,378 deaths to date – and more than 7,500 new cases were reported on Thursday alone.
According to PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the further restrictions were necessary because Israelis have not complied with social distancing requirements.
“Something needs to be done and it must be done now – a tight lockdown, especially during the holidays, when the economic cost is much lower,” he said.
The government had also sought to restrict citizens’ protests to within 1km (0.6 miles) of their homes. This would have effectively halted ongoing demonstrations outside Netanyahu’s residence over his handling of the pandemic and the economy, as well as over corruption allegations. The PM denies any wrongdoing. However, MPs failed to agree on that protest restriction measure before the tightened lockdown took effect on Friday.
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