Israeli police brace for rally against corona cash crisis

Israel imposed a broad lockdown from the middle of March, allowing only staff deemed essential to go to work and banning public assembly. (File/AFP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

Israeli police brace for rally against corona cash crisis

  • Organizers of the protests said they expected thousands of Israel’s self-employed to turn out
  • Student unions said they would also take part in the event at the city’s Rabin Square, to show their concern at the large numbers of young people made jobless by closures

JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Saturday said they had flooded central Tel Aviv with officers and closed main thoroughfares, ahead of a rally by critics of the government’s handling of the COVID 19 crisis.
“Hundreds of police will be deployed in a number of security cordons,” a police statement said. “The mission is protection of the participants and preservation of public order.”
Organizers of the protests said they expected thousands of Israel’s self-employed to turn out in protest at what they say is the government’s abandonment of them after forcing their businesses to close under coronavirus regulations.
Student unions said they would also take part in the event at the city’s Rabin Square, to show their concern at the large numbers of young people made jobless by closures.
Israel imposed a broad lockdown from the middle of March, allowing only staff deemed essential to go to work and banning public assembly.
Places of entertainment were closed, hitting the leisure industry hard.
Facing public and economic pressure, the government eased restrictions in late May.
Infection numbers mounted and rules were tightened again, including the closure of event venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
While salaried workers sent on furlough received unemployment benefits, the self-employed said that most had been waiting months for promised government aid to reach them.
“There is a very grave crisis of confidence between us and the government,” Shai Berman, one of the protest organizers told Israeli public radio.
“We are part of a very large public which is feeling growing distress and wants to demonstrate and simply does not believe the promises,” he added.
On Friday the health ministry announced the highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 36,000 cases, including over 350 deaths.
No update had been published by Saturday afternoon.
Berman, head of the Bars and Restaurants association said that the evening rally would be non-partisan.
“Politicians will not be making speeches,” he said. “The only ones who will go up on the stage are those from the grassroots who will tell their stories.”


Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

Updated 27 November 2020

Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

  • The report did not specify how long the closures would last
  • It asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices

TEHRAN: Iran on Friday announced that all government offices will effectively close and operate with only essential staff, further tightening coronavirus measures as the country struggles to contain its most widespread wave of infection yet.
Starting this Saturday — the first day of Iran’s workweek — state TV said “only those employees who need to be present will be at work” in government offices. Managers will make the call on who must still come to work.
The report did not specify how long the closures would last, but asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices.
Infections have soared in recent months, and on Friday, Iran again set a record for new virus cases in a single day with 14,051 cases, bringing the total to 922,397.
Iran has also recorded more than 400 daily virus deaths since last Saturday, the same day new tightened restrictions went into effect. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the death toll on Friday reached 47,095, after 406 people died since Thursday.
Since Saturday, some government offices and organizations had closed or began working with less than 30% of their employees, while banks, post offices, communications and other utilities worked with half their staff.
Those new lockdown measures also included shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, and are set to last two weeks.
Iran’s government had recently resisted shutting down the country in an attempt to salvage an economy cratered by unprecedented American sanctions, which effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions in 2018 after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Earlier this month, authorities ordered a month-long nightly curfew for businesses in Tehran and 30 other major cities and towns, asking nonessential shops to keep their workers home. Still, enforcement in the sprawling metropolis remains a challenge.