Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months.
The three-week lockdown will include the closure of many businesses, strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to within a kilometer (0.6 miles) of their homes.
The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.
In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.
“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent," Netanyahu said, The Associated Press reported.
“I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”
Israel has reported a total of more than 175,000 cases since the outbreak began, including at least 1,169 deaths. It is now reporting around 5,000 new cases a day, one of the highest per capita infection rates in the world.
In Israel, the government has come under withering criticism for its response to the virus and the economic crisis triggered by the earlier lockdown.
Netanyahu, who is also on trial for corruption, has been the target of weekly protests outside his official residence.