By Marcy Oster
Traffic jams and violations citations are the hallmarks so far of Israel’s second lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Israelis heading to work on Monday morning battled heavy traffic jams caused by dozens of police checkpoints set up on highways throughout the country.
The lockdown went to effect on Friday afternoon, hours before the start of the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday. Under the lockdown regulations, Israelis whose places of employment are open can travel to work. All other Israelis are required to stay within 1,000 meters — about two-thirds of a mile — of their homes at all times.
Police cited nearly 7,000 lockdown violations over Rosh Hashanah, Haaretz reported, most for violating the rule to remain near home. A restaurant in Tel Aviv was fined for being open and filled with 50 patrons.
Some 40 Israelis died during Rosh Hashanah.
On Monday, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod announced that they could not accept more patients with the coronavirus since their wards for such patients are at capacity. At the same time, Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy ordered all hospitals to suspend elective surgeries due to the surge in cases of the deadly virus.
In an interview Sunday, Israel’s so-called coronavirus czar, Dr. Ronni Gamzu, told Channel 12 news that the number of coronavirus cases in Israel is reaching “emergency” levels and called on hospitals to open more coronavirus wards. He did not support tightening further restrictions meant to slow the progress of the virus.
The government’s coronavirus cabinet was set to meet on Tuesday to discuss a further tightening, though such regulations likely would not go into effect until after Yom Kippur, which begins on the evening of Sept. 27.