With relatively low death rates but an unemployment rate of more than 26%, Israel is expected to start easing restrictions on the coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Saturday evening.
“Starting tomorrow, we begin to open up both the personal and the economic sphere,” he said in a television appearance.
Outdoor prayer will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people, he said, and the exercise will be allowed for people in pairs up to 500 meters from their home, up to 100 meters.
An eclectic list of retail establishments will be allowed to reopen, including electrical and office supply stores, laundries, bookstores, household goods stores and opticians. But the shopping malls will remain locked, which means that only authorized businesses with their own storefronts will reopen. And stores will be limited to serving two customers at a time and will need to install physical barriers between customers and cashiers.
Restaurants, hairdressers, clothing, shoe and toy stores remain closed.
Other companies will be allowed to reduce up to 30% of their workforce to their posts, compared to 15%.
A new “purple seal” certification will allow employers to resume their activities subject to meeting conditions such as the obligation for workers to wear masks, to regularly control the temperature and to regularly disinfect surfaces; with the exception of meetings of more than eight people; document who works where and when; and force the whole workplace to shut down if someone over there gets sick.
Netanyahu urged Israelis aged 67 and over to stay at home for the time being, and pleaded with Muslim citizens to avoid holidays and other gatherings during the month-long celebration of Ramadan, which begins Thursday evening.