Israel’s beaches will reopen to the public next Wednesday after a nearly two-month shuttering due to the coronavirus, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Thursday.
The decision followed a consultation between Deri, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Local authorities will be required to prepare beaches under their jurisdiction to welcome bathers in line with social distancing guidelines by May 20.
The reopening of beaches had become a particularly heated topic of debate among ministers in recent weeks. After the cabinet approved a host of rollbacks to coronavirus-related emergency guidelines earlier this week without including the reopening of beaches, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan publicly called on the Health Ministry to remove its veto on the measure. He argued that it was impossible to enforce the current regulations and explain why most public places were reopening but not beaches, which have recently been visited by many bathers despite the continued ban.
Separately Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that all schools and kindergartens will fully reopen on Sunday, except for in towns with high rates of coronavirus infection. Local authorities will be responsible with deciding when exactly each age group returns.
On Wednesday evening, the Health Ministry issued a statement denying having given a go-ahead for Israel Railways to start running again, only hours after the Transportation Ministry announced that limited intercity service would begin on Sunday.
On Thursday, Channel 12 reported that trains would not return to operation until June 1.