Jerusalem (AFP) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis to continue wearing masks and respect social distancing measures, as confirmed novel coronavirus cases spiked following the easing of lockdown measures.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting on the virus, he said the past 24 hours had seen nearly 1,000 new infections confirmed.
Israel had imposed tight lockdown restrictions following its first registered COVID-19 case in February, then began cautiously easing them in mid-April.
Netanyahu said that for the moment, places of worship, bars, event halls and clubs would stay open, but with gatherings limited to 50 people -- or 20 in private homes.
"We don't want to go back to a policy of general lockdown," he said.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein also urged strict adherence to personal hygiene protocols and said the country was "at war for the benefit of citizens".
Israel, with its nine million inhabitants, has registered some 26,452 infections including 324 deaths.
The Israeli parliament on Wednesday passed a law enabling the government to use its domestic security agency to track coronavirus infections as cases surged.