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JERUSALEM – Israel will impose a third national lockdown to combat rising coronavirus infections , Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today.

The restrictions will take effect Sunday night and last 14 days, pending final approval from the cabinet, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office.

The restrictions include the closure of premises, limited public transportation, a partial closure of schools and a one kilometer restriction to travel from home, except to travel to workplaces that remain open and to buy basic necessities.

Regarding the Christian minority in Israel, the Health Ministry indicated that during Christmas, prayers in places of worship will be limited to gatherings of 10 people in closed spaces and 100 people in open areas.

With a population of nine million, Israel has so far reported more than 385,000 Covid-19 cases and 3,150 deaths from the virus . On Wednesday, the Health Ministry said it detected four people infected with the new variant of the coronavirus that emerged in Britain.

The lockdown comes at a time when Israel’s vaccination campaign is already underway. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told Army Radio that he expects the campaign to be completed in a few months.

Nonetheless, public anger has risen over Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, and the country will hold elections on March 23, the fourth in two years, amid ongoing infighting in the coalition.

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