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Virus czar warns ultra-Orthodox against opening schools ahead of lockdown exit

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The top official charged with leading Israel’s response to the coronavirus warned Saturday evening against becoming complacent and urged ultra-Orthodox communities not to open schools, as the government was set to significantly roll back a nationwide lockdown.

Israel on Sunday was to begin easing a month-long closure that has managed to curb runaway infection rates, but shuttered much of the economy and paralyzed life for many. Officials have expressed fears that pressure to swiftly reopen schools and the full economy will lead to a repeat of Israel’s chaotic emergence from its first lockdown in May, widely blamed for paving the way for the spike in new COVID-19 cases over the late summer.

Speaking in a televised address, Ronni Gamzu thanked Israelis for adhering to the rules, but warned that the country was far from being out of the woods.

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“Restrain yourselves,” he said, urging Iraelis to avoid gatherings such as weddings and parties as “they’ll quickly bring us backwards.”

“Don’t shrug it off. This could lead to a renewed rise in infections, especially in red cities,” he said. Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu visits the Jerusalem Municipality on October 13, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He issued a specific warning to the Haredi community, after a prominent rabbi called for the reopening........

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