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Israel set to open stores, gyms and culture Sunday in major move toward normalcy

Israelis wear protective face masks in Tel Aviv, on December 23, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israelis wear protective face masks in Tel Aviv, on December 23, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The coronavirus cabinet has agreed on an arrangement that will see stores, gyms, hotels, sporting events and culture institutions reopen on Sunday, February 21, widespread reports indicate, based on leaks from the meeting.

The decision appears to constitute a compromise between health officials’ desire to wait for Tuesday, February 23, and Blue and White’s demand to start reopening this week.

Street-front shops, malls, markets, museums and libraries will be open to all.

But only those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus will be able to use gyms, enter sporting and culture events, hotels and swimming pools.

The decision marks a major move toward normalcy in the country amid the ongoing vaccination drive. Many of the institutions set to open Sunday have been shuttered for the better part of the past year due to the pandemic.

Synagogues are set to reopen from Friday, with restrictions — 10 people inside and 20 outside.

Further ministerial discussions are planned for later this week regarding school openings.

Almost 4 million Israelis have now had at least one vaccination dose — out of a population of 9.3 million. Over 3 million Israelis, however, are not yet eligible for vaccination, being aged under 16 or having previously contracted COVID-19. Israel is weighing giving a single vaccine dose to those who have previously had the virus.

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