Closure of Bnei Brak and Ramot due to the Coronavirus

Closure of Bnei Brak and Ramot due to the Coronavirus

Avinoam Sharon
April 22, 2020

Due to the high rate of incidence of the coronavirus in the city of Bnei Brak, on April 2, 2020, the Israeli Government declared the city a “restricted zone” for a period of six days, effectively putting the entire city under quarantine. The declaration was made by virtues of emergency regulations promulgated to confront the coronavirus epidemic.

The petition, submitted by four residents of Bnei Brak, challenged the Government’s decision, arguing that the declaration was intended only to prevent the spread of the virus to adjacent cities, but did not relate to the prevention of its spread among the residents of Bnei Brak themselves, and that it violated the residents’ freedom of occupation, their liberty, dignity and their freedom of movement. They further argued that the declaration could not be made by virtue of emergency regulations, but required primary legislation, and that it did not meet the proportionality requirements of the limitations clause of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

On April 7, 2020, The High Court of Justice denied the petition on the basis of deference to the policy decisions of governmental agencies in the exercise of their discretion in purely professional matters that are within an agency’s authority and professional expertise. The Court noted that such deference particularly applies in matters of public health.

Inasmuch as the declaration involved the violation of a basic right, the Court went on to examine whether the decision met the requirements of the Limitations Clause, and found that the decision met all of the conditions and case-law tests required by the Limitations Clause.

Following this decision, on April 12, 2020, the Government declared several areas in Jerusalem “restricted zones” for a period of three days. A petition submitted the following day (HCJ 2491/20) challenged the declaration of the Ramot neighborhood a restricted zone. On April 14, 2020, the Court (per Justice A. Baron, Justices I. Amit and A. Stein concurring) dismissed the petition in limine, citing the above judgment (HCJ 2435/20), and holding that there was no cause for the Court’s intervention in the Government’s decision inasmuch as the decision was based upon an appropriately grounded factual basis.

An English translation of the judgment in HCJ 2435/20 can be read here.