Israel imposes Passover inter-city travel ban

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel banned inter-city travel from yesterday to Friday this week to forestall the spread of coronavirus during the Passover holidays, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“There will be a lockdown between Tuesday from 4pm until Friday at 7am – you must stay in your cities and villages,” he said late on Monday on television.

He also said that today evening, when the traditional Seder meal for Passover is to be held, only people living under the same roof will be permitted to interact.

“Every family must stay at home and nobody can leave their homes between 6pm on Wednesday and 7am on Thursday,” the prime minister added.

“The coming days will be decisive for the state of Israel,” he said.

Israeli policemen impose closure at a checkpoint in the Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv. PHOTO: AFP

Coronavirus has so far killed 57 people in the Jewish state and infected more than 8,900, according to official figures. Cases in Israel are concentrated heavily in the ultra-Orthodox community where health restrictions have been slow to take root, with some refusing to accept the limitations.

Netanyahu last Friday gave the green light for soldiers to be deployed in the mostly ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, which is considered the centre of Israel’s novel coronavirus outbreak.

In his address on Monday, the premier pointed to “positive signs of progress” in the fight against coronavirus.

“We can envisage starting to come out of quarantine progressively after Passover, but it will depend on you,” he told citizens.

Israelis are currently restricted from venturing out more than 100 metres from their homes, except to go to the supermarket, pharmacy or hospital.