The coronavirus lockdown in Israel is to be extended until Sunday morning, after which the measures are to be relaxed gradually in spite persistently high infection figures.
The plan was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Friday after an hour-long cabinet meeting.
Among other things, curfew restrictions are to be lifted from Sunday.
Employees, who can work without contact with customers, will be allowed to return to their workplaces. No specific details were initially given on kindergarten or school openings.
The strict lockdown – the third in the country of nine million people – would have expired on Friday without an extension. It was imposed on January 8.
In spite of this measure and a parallel mass vaccination campaign, the number of cases of infection and the number of seriously ill people have so far remained at a very high level.
The health system is close to breaking point.
According to official data, the number of deaths related to coronavirus infection has now exceeded the 5,000 mark, having reached 3,388 deaths on December 31, meaning that almost a third of the deaths have been recorded since the beginning of the year.
According to the ministry of health on Friday, 7,168 new infections were recorded within the previous 24 hours.
The second lockdown in the autumn had reduced the number of daily new infections from more than 9,000 to a few hundred.
In December, the number of 2,500 new infections per day was set as the threshold for tightening the coronavirus measures.