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Hand sanitizer on every table: Tel Aviv pitches plan for restaurants to reopen

Mayor launches proposal for eateries to open mid-May, says government needs to rescue industry and its workers

A closed down cafe on Nachalat Binyamin Street in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2020 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
A closed down cafe on Nachalat Binyamin Street in Tel Aviv on April 14, 2020 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality on Wednesday put forward a plan to allow restaurants to reopen by next weekend with a proposal including single-use menus, hand sanitizer bottles at every table and extensive cleaning regimens.

Israel has begun reopening large sectors of the economy, but the government has yet to give a projected date for when restaurants can reopen beyond the mid-June date named as a target for the economy to be fully reopened.

According to the Tel Aviv proposal, which would still require the government’s sign-off, restaurants will be able to open on May 15 if they ensure that distance is maintained between tables. The municipality has already told owners of eateries that they can apply to for a permit to extend seating areas onto sidewalks and even into nearby parks and plazas if it will help them reopen while maintaining social distancing regulations.

In the proposal launched Wednesday at a press conference by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai alongside the restaurant owners association, eateries will be allowed to return to 70 percent capacity if they pledge to maintain hygiene in kitchens and servers wear masks throughout their shifts.

Illustrative: Customers sit at a restaurant on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, June 22, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Furthermore, workers will have to change into a uniform when they arrive at work or wear a robe or other covering over their clothes, and all food must be brought to tables, with no buffets or self-service.

According to the plan, anyone involved in the preparation of food will wear a mask and gloves at all times, and steps will be taken to ensure garbage levels are low in food preparation areas.

In addition, all workers will be asked questions about their health on a daily basis and have their temperatures checked before they enter the workplace in an attempt to prevent any spread of the virus.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai attends the annual international Municipal Innovation Conference in Tel Aviv February 19, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Huldai said restaurants are “important partners” in the city’s economic and social life.

“We’re doing everything in our power to help, by means of exemptions from fees and other tools, but these aren’t enough. Rescuing the [restaurant] industry of hundreds of thousands of workers is in the hands of the government,” Channel 13 news quoted the letter as saying.

Restaurants and food shops are now allowed to sell products for takeaway as well as home delivery, but Netanyahu has warned that Israel could have to reassess enforcing stricter measures if there are more than 100 new coronavirus cases a day, a doubling of cases within 10 days, or over 250 people with serious symptoms in hospitals.

Unemployment figures leaped from a record low of 4 percent at the beginning of March to over 25% at the beginning of April, as many businesses were forced to close their doors while the public was ordered off the streets.

As a result, the number of unemployed surpassed 1,000,000 for the first time in Israel’s history, with many employees put on unpaid leave.

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