As Coronavirus Recedes, Israel's Senior Citizens’ Day Centers to Reopen

Around 30,000 people use the centers and clubs, which will operate according to new social distancing guidelines

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A senior day center in Sderot, southern Israel, March 14, 2016.
A senior day center in Sderot, southern Israel, March 14, 2016.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

Day centers and clubs for senior citizens are due to reopen on Monday, after being closed for over two months due to the coronavirus outbreak. Around 30,000 people use the services of the hundreds of centers throughout the country, which provide cultural and sports activities as well as breakfast and lunch, among other things.

According to the plan approved by the Health Ministry, activities in the centers will be limited to groups of up to five people in every room of at least 20 square meters. Participants will also have to sign a declaration of health and to have their temperature taken at the entrance, and the staff will be instructed to keep track of changes in their health. In addition, transportation to the centers will be increased to meet the directives requiring that there be only one passenger for every two seats.

The resumption of activity in the centers became feasible after the Finance Ministry approved the additional budgets necessary for implementing the plan. According to the agreement, the Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry will receive approximately 12 million shekels ($3,400,000) more per month to increase transportation and manpower in accordance with the restrictions.

During the coronavirus crisis the clubs were closed and worked at a remove in a partial format. Senior citizens who so desired received a hot meal delivered to their homes, a weekly visit from a social worker, contact with the staff, help with urgent errands and other services. 

Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Itzik Shmuli said: “The isolation of senior citizens is a danger to their welfare and their health and I’m happy that after considerable effort we were able to reach a decision to open the centers and the clubs for them, while safeguarding their health.”

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