Israel tightens lockdown to help broaden vaccinations

Israel imposed additional restrictions as the first vaccines made by US biotech company Moderna arrived in the country. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called on all Israelis to abide by the tougher measures, hours after Health Minister Yuli Edelstein admitted that few had complied with the third lockdown, which began two weeks ago.

"We are going into lockdown so as not to kill each other!" Rivlin said in a video statement to Israelis. "We, all of us and without exceptions, must follow its rules," he said adding that the vaccine's effects would soon be felt and the country would return to normality. "Until then, we must be patient and disciplined."

Under the new tougher rules, which will be in place for at least two weeks all schools and kindergartens will be shut, with the exception of special education, a government statement said. Shopping centres remain closed and restaurants are still only allowed to offer delivery services. A ban remains in place on visits to anyone beyond immediate family.

Meanwhile, a cargo flight carrying more than 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine landed near Tel Aviv on Thursday. Israel has secured 6 million doses of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19. The country began its inoculation campaign on 20 December, using the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Edelstein tweeted on Thursday that nearly 1.6 million Israelis had received their first dose. The country of 9.2 million inhabitants has seen 3,527 deaths due to Covid-19.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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