Open-air markets and all non-essential businesses will close as infections in the country soar. But a move to restrict prayers and protests could face a backlash ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday.

The Israeli cabinet voted to close all non-essential businesses and restrict demonstrations and prayers on Thursday amid soaring coronavirus case numbers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the virus was driving the country towards “the edge of an abyss.”

Israel entered its second lockdown on September 18, but cases continued to rise reaching a daily level of almost 7,000 new infections. The country is among the worst-hit on a per-capita basis anywhere in the world.

Prayers and protestswill be limited to no more than 20 people and must be held outside, while those attending may not travel further than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from their homes.

The new rules come into effect on Friday as the country shuts down for the weekly Sabbath ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday on Sunday and Monday.

ab/rt (AP, Reuters)