Israel Okays Greater Return to Normalcy by Reopening Restaurants and Tourist Sites

Bars and pools also reopening, with all patrons required to follow restrictions ■ New virus case shutters Tel Aviv day care center

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People at the beach in Tel Aviv, late May 2020.
People at the beach in Tel Aviv, late May 2020.Credit: Eyal Toueg

The cabinet voted on Tuesday to allow restaurants, bars and tourist attractions to reopen starting Wednesday. Clubs, however, are not allowed to reopen, despite previous commitments made by government ministries to include them in the latest coronavirus regulations.

Patrons at all these facilities must observe physical distancing, wear masks except when eating, and observe rules of hygiene.

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Business owners must observe the rules of signposting, mark spots to wait in line, and restrict customers in accordance with the specific “purple badge” rules to be issued for each type of facility.

Pools are allowed to reopen, but must limit patrons so that there is a ratio of 6 square meters of space for each patron.

Restaurants, bars and pubs are permitted to seat customers in keeping with their business licenses, but places with a capacity of more than 100 people can only fill to 85 percent of capacity. Cable cars can resume operation but with only half the permitted number of riders, and not more than 20 riders.

Business owners can allow more people into their stores or businesses as long as there is a ratio of 7 square meters per customer. Up to 50 people can attend a professional meeting as long as participants can be seated at least two meters from one another.

Private cars can now carry two passengers in addition to the driver, rather than just one. If a private vehicle has more than one row of passenger seats, an additional passenger may sit in each such row.

Taxis can now take two passengers in each row of seats, instead of one, unless the passengers are all from the same household.

In addition, informal education including after-school activities, youth groups and classes is being permitted to reopen as of Wednesday.

This will include the presence of coronavirus inspectors and provision of declarations of health, as well as maintaining social distancing and hygiene practices.

Youth movements, community centers, after-school activities, municipal youth departments, enrichment groups for gifted children, adult learning centers and excursion groups will also be returning to routine.

Ahead of renewing these activities, the Education Ministry allowed professional teams to go the relevant branches and prepare them, including by disinfecting the premises.

With this move, the ministry will have completed the return to a new routine, subject to clear coronavirus-related guidelines. Overnight field trips are still not allowed, since maintaining hygiene would be hard to supervise.

The Health Ministry said that observing the guidelines regarding physical distancing, masks, and hygiene are crucial to preventing another wave of coronavirus cases.

Virus case shutters preschool

Israel reported 23 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, putting the total to date at 16,757.

There are 2,019 people confirmed to have the illness, including 37 in serious condition and 33 on respirators. Some 281 people have died; there were no deaths of the illness on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s new cases include a childcare worker at a north Tel Aviv day care center, the Bavli branch of the Na’amat state-supervised day care system. Some 124 children registered at the day care and their parents have been placed in quarantine, and the preschool has been closed for two weeks.

Another new case was a seventh-grade student at Jerusalem’s Gymnasia high school. Some 40 students and staff members were placed in quarantine.

Meanwhile, preschools and elementary schools through fourth grade will operate state-run day camps through August 6, under an agreement reached Tuesday evening between the Prime Minister’s Office, the Education Ministry, the treasury budget director and the Union of Local Authorities.

The academic year in elementary schools will be extended until July 13, instead of ending June 30, in accordance with the agreement reached with the Teachers Union at the start of coronavirus crisis, and immediately afterward the day camps will begin under the auspices of the local authorities.

The day camps will operate until 4 P.M. in the preschools and grades 1-2, and until early afternoon for grades 3 and 4. They will be free in socioeconomic clusters 1 through 4 (which includes Jerusalem) and will be subsidized in other cities.

“This move will be good for the children, who will get quality educational frameworks, will allow the parents of young children to make a living with a clear head and restart the gears of the economy,” ducation Minister Yoav Galant said.

Typically state-run camps are only offered through mid-July.

Meanwhile, early on Wednesday the Gaza Health Ministry said it had found three more coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases in the Strip to 61.

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