Cabinet set to weigh ending 100-meter movement limit, reopening parks
Officials remove ban on those over 67 returning to work

Cabinet set to weigh ending 100-meter movement limit, reopening parks

At Sunday meeting, ministers also expected to discuss allowing more people at weddings and funerals, reopen malls, markets, gyms and museums later this month, TV network says

People wear protective masks to protect them from the coronavirus in Tel Aviv on April 28, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
People wear protective masks to protect them from the coronavirus in Tel Aviv on April 28, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The cabinet is reportedly slated to discuss various new easing of restrictions on the public Sunday, as coronavirus infection rates remained low at the weekend.

On Saturday night, the government removed a restriction barring those over the age of 67 from returning to work.

Ministers on Sunday are expected to discuss eliminating the restriction keeping citizens within 100 meters of their homes unless for specific purposes (such as work, shopping or physical activity), as well as the reopening of national parks, Channel 12 news reported.

Beaches and playgrounds would remain closed for the time being, the report added.

Further action being considered in the coming days includes allowing guesthouses to reopen under limitations, as well as permitting universities to hold classes in groups of up to 15 people, while encouraging remote studying to continue where possible.

The cabinet was to weigh allowing a greater number of guests at weddings and funerals the week after next, the report said. Meanwhile items under discussion for mid-May included reopening malls and open air markets, reopening gyms and fitness classes under severe limitations, and museums and libraries.

The expected easing of restrictions came as Health Ministry officials and police expressed concern over weakened public discipline over the weekend, with thousands of Israelis flouting social distancing rules and flocking to beaches, parks and markets.

Photos and video showed many people did not keep to distancing rules and did not wear masks outside. A senior police official told Channel 13 news that there was a “significant weakening of discipline” among the public regarding adherence to coronavirus restrictions and said police were still enforcing restrictions with fines.

Magen David Adom’s 24/7 special coronavirus hotline was to close Sunday due to a reduced volume of calls, the Ynet news site reported, with health maintenance organizations and MDA’s regular 101 hotline to continue handling public inquiries and emergencies.

An ambulance driving in the central Israeli city of Elad, April 5, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

According to a Channel 13 report Friday the Finance Ministry has drawn up a four-step plan for reopening the economy, with the infection rate in coming days seen as crucial in determining the timeline.

The outline is still under discussion and does not include any specific dates.

In the first step, malls and outdoor markets will open and Palestinian workers from the West Bank will be allowed to return to construction jobs in Israel.

During the second stage, group classes and community centers will be opened, but swimming pools in the centers will remain closed. Non-medical health treatments, such as physiotherapy, will be allowed, and nature preserves and museums will reopen, said the report, which did not cite its sources.

In the next step, movie theaters, theaters for plays, fitness centers, essential flights, auditoriums, restaurants and bars will open for business.

Lastly, night clubs, swimming pools, water parks and amusement parks will be opened to the public.

Pedestrians in Jerusalem, April 30, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Health Ministry considers the coming week to be crucial for determining a time frame for reopening the economy. Officials will gauge the effects of recent reopening measures to make their decisions going forward.

The Health Ministry believes that if the recent easing of restrictions has increased infections in Israel, it will become apparent in the coming days, Channel 13 reported, citing senior officials in the ministry.

As the number of new infections slowed, the government has begun loosening restrictions meant to contain the pandemic, such as lifting the limit on the distance Israelis can exercise from their homes and allowing many businesses to reopen.

However, it has also kept in a place a ban on traveling more than 100 meters from one’s home unless it’s for a permitted activity, while requiring Israelis to wear a mask outside and urging them to follow social distancing directives.

Restaurants and bars have been shuttered in Israel since mid-March due to the coronavirus, but are allowed to make deliveries and as of April 25, customers may pick up take-away food.

Shops facing the street were also allowed to open earlier this week.

New guidelines approved by the government earlier this week slap a NIS 200 fine on anyone over the age of 7 caught without a face mask when in public, including first-time offenders, who previously got away with a warning.

Schools were set to reopen Sunday morning in a limited capacity, with grades one through three, as well as eleventh and twelfth, to return to studies under many restrictions.

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