A Fine for Not Wearing a Mask: These Are Israel's New Coronavirus Regulations

Stores that operate outside shopping center allowed to open ■ Praying in groups of up to 19 permitted in an open space ■ Special education to resume activity in classes of up to three children

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Israelis with anti-coronavirus masks in Jerusalem
Israelis with anti-coronavirus masks in JerusalemCredit: Emil Salman

The government approved a series of easements, significantly relaxing the lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus, which has severely crippled Israel’s economy. The new regulations will go into effect as of Sunday until May 3.   

The new measures include raising the workforce in the private sector to 30 percent from 15 and partially reopening stores. In addition, the high-tech sector is permitted to extend its activity, so long as businesses can follow Health Ministry directives.

All stores that operate in an open space, as opposed to shopping centers or markets, will also be allowed to open. Only two customers are allowed inside at the same time, one per cashier, or four if the store is larger than 100 square meters.

In light of disgreement on certain regulations ministers demanded that voting to approve the new measures would be done one clause at a time. 

Businesses allowed to open will receive a special permit and will be required to adhere to the following regulations:

■ Employers are obligated to ask their employees how they feel when they come to work

■ People working in open spaces will have to use partitions

■ Using shared office equipment and joint eating in office kitchenettes are forbidden

■ Employees are asked to work in fixed teams

■ Workplaces would be shut down if one employees is diagnosed with the coronavirus

■ Those able to work from home are required to do so

■ Holding meetings and deliberations in groups of up to 8 people.

Those older than 67 and suffering from conditions are still required to work from home, as well as anyone who can do so. 

A maximum of three families are allowed to help each other in looking after respective children. People will be allowed to pray in groups of 19 in an open space, and sports are allowed in pairs up to 500 meters outside one's home (previously, individual activities were allowed to up to 100 meters from one's house).

Special education will resume activity in classes of three, and daycares for toddlers catering to up to three families would also be permitted. 

People not wearing masks in public spaces will be fined 200 shekels, after being cautioned once.

Public Security minister Gilad Erdan also suggested limiting the number of people allowed to participate in a protest, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu objected to the proposal, saying it would be infringement on the right to demonstrate.   

Weddings and circumcision ceremonies will be held in open spaces with the attendee of up to 10 people and while maintaining a two-meter distance between each participant.

All cabinet ministers voted in favor of the new regulations, excluding Zeev Elkin who opposed them after his proposal to financially compensate parents of small children who are forced to stay at home since the education system hasn’t yet resumed full activity was rejected.

Health Ministry Chairman Moshe Bar Siman Tov said if coronavirus figures are encouraging the easing of the lockdown will continue. "We will continue to go back to normal, but it will be a coronavirus normal," he said.

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