Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Tal SHAHAR / POOL / AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu approved that current restrictions be tightened up to a “full lockdown”.

This will be for two weeks beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) on Friday, in the face of the soaring COVID-19 numbers.

On Wednesday night, Israel’s cabinet passed new restrictions tightening a second lockdown that began on Sept. 18.

The ministry stressed that the decision must be approved by a parliament.

The new restrictions, he said, include closures of all non-essential businesses and markets.

Synagogues are to close except on the holy fast day of Yom Kippur, which begins on Sunday evening and ends 25 hours later, when worshippers would be allowed to pray in accordance with specific regulations.

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Public transport would operate on a limited basis.

Professional sports competitions are prohibited, with the exception of official international ones.

The tighter lockdown is set to end after the Jewish holiday season, which concludes with Simchat Torah on Oct. 11.

Netanyahu also announced that another two weeks would be added after the end of the lockdown with fewer restrictions, depending on statistics.

Both protests and outdoor prayers are to be limited to groups of 20 people and restricted to a 1km-radius from their homes.

The rate of daily COVID-19 infections in Israel remained close to 7,000, the Health Ministry announced on Thursday, as the country prepared for tougher lockdown measures to come into force.

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According to the newly released data, 6,808 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed on Wednesday, close to the record of 6,950 on Tuesday.

dpa/NAN