Israel Closes Restaurants, Malls to Stop Virus

March 14, 2020 Updated: March 14, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that the nation’s restaurants and places of entertainment will be closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. He also encouraged people not to go to their workplaces unless absolutely necessary.

“Whoever doesn’t need to go work or doesn’t need to be in a certain place, don’t go,” Netanyahu said in a televised address Saturday.

But he stopped short of declaring a widespread shutdown seen in some other hard-hit countries.

school closed in Israel
A child stands at the locked gate of a school in the central Israeli coastal city of Netanya, a day after an announcement made by the Israeli prime minister of the closure of schools and universities as a preventive measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, on March 13, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

Netanyahu told the public that they should prepare for a new routine but that the government would ensure that essential services continue. After panicked scenes in supermarkets over the weekend, he also said the country has no shortages of food or essential items and encouraged public calm.

Shai Babad, the director of the Israeli Finance Ministry, said the closures would include restaurants, malls, movies, gyms and daycare centers. Schools and universities already have been closed, and entry to the country has been tightly restricted.

Israel has detected some 193 cases of the virus.

Netanyahu also renewed a call for an emergency unity government with his political opponents after Israel’s third consecutive inconclusive election this month.