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Israel to Loosen Coronavirus Restrictions


The Israeli cabinet voted overnight to loosen some restrictions placed on the economy in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, doubling the number of Israeli workers permitted to leave home for work.

During the meeting, which concluded early Sunday morning, the cabinet approved a number of measures proposed to boost the Israeli economy and soften the spike in unemployment, which rose from just 3.6% prior to the coronavirus epidemic to over 26%.

Following the cabinet vote, a limited number of retailers will be permitted to reopen, including stores selling: audio visual equipment, cell phones and other communication devices, computers and computer equipment and software, textiles, rugs and wall coverings, furniture, and home appliances.

In addition, hardware stores, book stores, stationary stores, sporting goods stores, stores selling musical instruments, stores selling films or music, laundromats, medical equipment retailers, and shoe repair businesses will also be permitted to reopen.

Any business reopening will be required to adhere to Health Ministry regulations pertaining to the coronavirus epidemic, including limiting the number of people allowed into a store at any given time to four people per checkout counter in the case of stores over 100 square meters, and up to two people per checkout counter in the case of stores smaller than 100 square meters.

Retailers will be required to enforce the Ministry’s two-meter social distancing regulation, and must measure the temperatures of customers as they enter the building.

The changes are expected to increase the number of Israelis able to work from 15% to 30%.

The cabinet also voted to ease restrictions on public prayer groups, allowing up to 19 people to gather in open areas for prayer – provided all participants wear face masks and stay at least two meters away from each other. Workers joining prayer groups will be permitted to go up to 500 meters from their place of business.

Furthermore, individuals looking to engage in sports activities will now be able to walk up to 500 meters from their homes, replacing the previous 100-meter limit.

Along with the eased restrictions, however, the cabinet also voted to empower police officers to fine individuals 200 shekels if they are found to be without face masks when in public.

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