A medical worker test residents of Elad that is under full closure, at a mobile testing station for COVID-19 on June 24, 2020. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday declared a partial lockdown on the haredi city of Elad in central Israel, and on five haredi neighborhoods in Tiberias. Non-residents are forbidden to enter the restricted zones for one week starting on Wednesday at 8 a.m., except to go to work or to take high school matriculation exams, but residents of the affected areas will not face any further restrictions.

The decision came as 459 new COVID-19 infections were recorded between Monday and Tuesday evening, the highest one-day tally since April 15.

Earlier Tuesday, a military task force warned of possible outbreaks in the city of Bat Yam — where the mayor ordered beaches closed — and other locations being monitored by authorities including Jerusalem, which has recorded 90 new cases in the past three days, Bnei Brak (58), Ashdod (52) and Tel Aviv-Jaffa (48).

Though Israel had brought the number of new COVID-19 cases down to around 20-30 per day in mid-May, a resurgence of the infectious disease began as schools and businesses began to reopen following two months of national lockdown.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry instructed hospitals to prepare for the reopening of coronavirus wards.

As of Wednesday morning, Israel has recorded a total of 21,666 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began in March, with 5,460 cases currently active. Of those, 40 are in serious condition with 27 on ventilators.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has said that Israel will not return to a nationwide lockdown, with the government preferring to impose pinpoint limitations on areas with rising infection rates.

In addition, the government this week approved an increase in the fine for being caught in public without a face mask, from 200 NIS ($58) to 500 NIS ($146). JN

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