Beaches opening Wednesday, but bathers must stay 2 meters apart
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Beaches opening Wednesday, but bathers must stay 2 meters apart

Israelis are already flocking to the country’s 155 recognized beaches; now at least 136 of them will have lifeguards and cleaning staff on duty

People lie on a beach as others cool off in the water in Netanya on May 18, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
People lie on a beach as others cool off in the water in Netanya on May 18, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Most of Israel’s beaches are set to open Wednesday as restrictions connected to the coronavirus pandemic are slowly lifted.

At least 136 recognized beaches will officially open, with lifeguards and other municipal workers at their posts. That’s almost 90 percent of the country’s 155 official beaches.

But beach-goers will still have to obey guidelines for minimizing physical contact between strangers, and municipalities are required to enforce those rules, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

They include keeping two meters’ (6.5 feet) distance from other people not from the same household.

Municipalities will be disinfecting public bathrooms every hour, and are required to announce the existing restrictions hourly on the lifeguards’ loudspeaker system.

Israelis walk along the beachfront promenade in Tel Aviv, as temperatures rise over 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in some parts of the country, May 16, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

All showers and locker rooms will remain shut.

The city of Tel Aviv, which boasts the country’s busiest beaches, announced it would only officially open 10 of its 13 recognized beaches, citing a budget crunch due to lack of tax income during the virus-caused economic crisis. “Closed” beaches will not have lifeguards or cleaning staff on duty.

The announcement came after many of the country’s beaches, especially in the Tel Aviv area, have seen thousands of bathers flocking to them over the past two weeks.

The announcement also comes amid a steady reopening of the economy and return to normalcy for businesses and schools amid a gradual decline in COVID-19 infection rates.

Health Ministry figures released Tuesday evening showed one death during the day from the novel coronavirus, while the overall number of people confirmed to be sick from the virus dropped by 133, to 2,946. Thirty-nine people remain on ventilators.

Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv, as temperatures rise over 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) in some parts of the country, May 16, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also signed off on a plan allowing restaurants, bars and nightclubs to reopen next week, amid growing calls from business owners and some local leaders that they be allowed to operate to avoid financial ruin.

The ministry plan, which must still be approved by the government, would also allow pools and hotels to open starting May 27, along with extracurricular activities for kids.

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