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March 30, 2020 2:16 pm

Israeli PM Netanyahu Announces New Coronavirus Restrictions, as Massive Economic Aid Plan Unveiled

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he delivers a statement during his visit to the Health Ministry national hotline, in Kiryat Malachi, Israel, March 1, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced new restrictions on movement and gatherings in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus, while Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon unveiled a massive economic aid package.

Among the new restrictions are a ban on public prayer and gatherings of more than two people, a 15% limit on the work force, avoidance of family visits over the Passover holiday and limitations on weddings, funerals and circumcision ceremonies.

“I ask you to avoid family visits on the eve of the holiday,” Netanyahu said. “The goal is to not meet people who have been elsewhere, because this is how the disease is spreading.”

Netanyahu also said that Israel was in “better shape” in terms of the number of infections and the mortality rate, but “we aim to reach the success rates of European countries that have slowed the rate of infection.”

The prime minister also said he would step up enforcement of all restrictions, saying those who violated them were “endangering the lives of us all.”

Outgoing Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon spoke after Netanyahu, detailing the economic aid package that will soon go into effect.

The package includes: 10 billion shekels for the health budget; 20 billion shekels for a social security net for all workers, including freelancers; 32 billion shekels in economic aid for all businesses, including small businesses; and eight billion shekels for the reconstruction of the economy after the crisis ends.

“We will not allow the economy to collapse,” Kahlon vowed.

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