Let’s shop! Israelis head to malls, markets and gyms after six weeks of closure
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Let’s shop! Israelis head to malls, markets and gyms after six weeks of closure

Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda resumes activity, as mayor visits to toast ‘day of celebration’ for shop owners

  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People have their temperature checked at they enter the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People have their temperature checked at they enter the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Israelis wearing face masks as they shop in the Jerusalem city center, May 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    Israelis wearing face masks as they shop in the Jerusalem city center, May 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Staff members wearing face masks and gloves prepare their stores for reopening at the Hadar Shopping mall in Jerusalem, May 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
    Staff members wearing face masks and gloves prepare their stores for reopening at the Hadar Shopping mall in Jerusalem, May 6, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
  • People wear protective face masks as they shop at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv before it officially opens up to the public, May 6, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    People wear protective face masks as they shop at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv before it officially opens up to the public, May 6, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • People wear protective face masks as they shop at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv before it officially opens up to the public, May 6, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    People wear protective face masks as they shop at the Carmel market in Tel Aviv before it officially opens up to the public, May 6, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • A gym teacher wears a protective face mask at the Rotem Fitness studio, In Moshav Burgata, May 6, 2020. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
    A gym teacher wears a protective face mask at the Rotem Fitness studio, In Moshav Burgata, May 6, 2020. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • A worker wearing protective clothing disinfects a gym at the Tel Aviv University Sports Center, May 6, 2020. (Flash90)
    A worker wearing protective clothing disinfects a gym at the Tel Aviv University Sports Center, May 6, 2020. (Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Malls, outdoor markets and gyms reopened Thursday morning after over six weeks of closure, as Israel’s numbers of daily new cases of the novel coronavirus remained in the low dozens.

In Jerusalem, patrons lined up early Thursday outside the Mahane Yehuda market, where guards checked their temperature before allowing them to enter, and made sure the market was not overcrowded.

“Keep to the guidelines in order to ensure that we can continue working in the market and that the shop owners will be able to sell and make their living,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion urged shoppers.

Photographs showed the mayor in an early-morning toast with those present.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion visits at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“This is a day of celebration for Mahane Yehuda,” said Tali Friedman, a union representative for the shop owners, according to the Walla news site. “The market is open and we hope it remains open [even] if the infection numbers rise in Israel, that we won’t be shut down.”

Pini Tzidkiyahu, who runs a fruit store in the market, told Army Radio: “We will protect the public’s health. The fruit is only in boxes, everyone is wearing gloves and everyone who needs a mask gets one.”

In Tel Aviv, the Carmel and Levinsky markets reopened Thursday morning, along  with several other open-air markets in Haifa and Beersheba.

Thursday’s openings were announced on Monday as part of a raft of eased coronavirus restrictions announced on Monday, most of which have already taken effect.

Shoppers were also reported to arrive at shopping malls throughout the country.

Malls and outdoor markets have been shut since mid-March as part of a series of sweeping measures put in place by Israel to attempt to contain the virus, though they came at the expense of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Shopping malls and markets will face various restrictions, including limiting the number of shoppers allowed to enter shops to one person for every 20 square meters and working to ensure a distance of two meters between customers.

They will also be required to put up signs listing the maximum number of people allowed on the premises, and must not allow customers to consume food on site. Places for those waiting in line must be delineated, with signs posted about maintaining distance. Accessible stands with hand disinfectant must be placed in various areas around the premises.

The Dizengoff Center mall in Tel Aviv, for example, was set to cap shoppers at 3,500 and set out 60 hand sanitizer stands, according to the Ynet news site.

People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Access to outdoor markets will only be granted to those wearing a face mask.

Gyms and fitness studios were allowed to reopen but were limited to one person per 10 square meters and required stringent hygiene practices.

The measures were approved and announced on Monday as part of a dramatic easing of the social distancing restrictions and limitations on movement and economic activity.

A gym teacher wears a protective face mask as she teaches at the Rotem Fitness studio, In Moshav Burgata, May 06, 2020. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

“We achieved major success” in containing the virus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a press conference at his office in Jerusalem on Tuesday, citing the declining rate of new infections and the fast-growing number of people to recover from COVID-19.

However, authorities warned that restrictions could be quickly snapped back in place if cases outside of known hotspots spike or other metrics are exceeded, amid worries about a possible second wave of infections.

Netanyahu said a cancellation of all limitations on gatherings was planned for June 14, “assuming that no red light goes on.”

Among the restrictions that have already been lifted is the 100-meter limit on travel from home for activities deemed nonessential. Visits to immediate family members were permitted, including with grandparents, although social distancing should be maintained on visits to elderly relatives, with no hugs or kisses.

Israeli children visit their grandparents in the central city of Kfar Yona on April 21, 2020. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

Gatherings of up to 20 people were allowed in open areas, to be expanded to up 50 people on May 17. Weddings and funerals can now have up to 50 people if they are held in open areas.

With some grades having returned to school this week, kindergartens and daycares are set to reopen on Sunday, while all students will return to classes by the end of the month. Universities and colleges are set to reopen on June 14.

Restrictions were also set to be eased on sports and leisure, with Netanyahu saying guidelines would soon be published for the reopening of parks, hotels, guesthouses and other venues. Soccer matches were set to resume May 30, according to a Thursday announcement.

Infection rates have dropped off significantly in recent days, with the number of new cases over 24-hour periods consistently falling below 100 since the start of the week.

Israel’s death toll from the virus stands at 239, with one new death over the last day.

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