Israel is set to tighten its second national coronavirus lockdown, with the prime minister warning the country is “on the brink of the abyss.”
The new measures, which parliament must approve, would see more workplaces closed and further restrict movement.
Synagogues could only open for small groups next week for Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, and the scale of protests would be limited.
The move came after the daily number of new Covid-19 cases surpassed 8,000.
It is one of the highest infection rates in the world for the size of the population.
Since the start of the pandemic, 1,335 people with the coronavirus have died in Israel and more than 206,000 cases have been diagnosed.
The Israeli government was praised in the spring for taking early action that contained the spread of Covid-19 and resulted in a very low death rate compared to other countries. But he has come under heavy criticism for losing control since the first lockdown was eased in May.
The virus quickly returned and last Friday, as new cases hit daily highs of over 5,000, Israel became the first developed country to return to a national lockdown.
Schools were closed and people were told to stay within one kilometer (0.6 mile) of their homes except for commuting to work, doing essential groceries, exercising at home. outdoors and attend religious services and demonstrations.
Synagogues were allowed to remain open but social distancing rules limited the number of worshipers allowed to enter during the Jewish New Year festival of Rosh Hashanah.
Ministers decided to impose tougher restrictions on Thursday after the infection rate continued to rise and health centers were reportedly under increasing pressure.
“The morbidity rate in Israel is increasing, the number of critical patients is increasing, unfortunately the number of deaths too,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
The new measures are expected to take effect at 2 p.m. (11 a.m. GMT) on Friday and last until the end of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot on October 11.
Israeli media reported that they would include shutting down all businesses not considered “essential”.
Synagogues are said to be closed except for Yom Kippur, which begins Sunday. At other times, only outdoor prayer services would be permitted with a maximum of 20 people in attendance.
Street protests should also be limited to 20 people at a time, potentially ending large protests that have been staged for weeks against Mr. Netanyahu.
Rivals have reportedly accused the prime minister of using the measures as a cover to end dissent. He called the rallies against him a farce.
Protesters have gathered outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem every week to demand that he resign during his trial for corruption, fraud and breach of trust. Mr. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.