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Tens of thousands flock to nature reserves as lockdown eased, temperatures rise

With stormclouds on the horizon for later this week, Israelis take advantage of eased restrictions while the warm weather lasts

A field of anemone flowers blossoming in Shokeda Forest, southern Israel, January 30, 2019 (Dudi Modan/Flash90)
A field of anemone flowers blossoming in Shokeda Forest, southern Israel, January 30, 2019 (Dudi Modan/Flash90)

Tens of thousands of Israelis flocked to parks and nature reserves on Saturday, taking advantage of the end of lockdown travel restrictions combined with warm spring-like weather.

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority said that by midday, some 50,000 people had already visited its sites.

The third nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 was eased on Sunday morning, including the lifting of restrictions on movement and the opening of nature reserves, national parks and heritage sites.

Visitors took advantage of the unseasonably sunny weather, which came ahead of expected storms in the coming days.

A visitor in a field of blooming lupine flowers, in Jerusalem on February 12, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The spring season in Israel, February to April, carpets many fields with wildflowers, depending on rainfall and altitude.

The protected crown anemones, named for their black center and rounded shape, cover the usually barren plains of the northern Negev in brilliant red.

A particular draw was the annual blooming of those red anemones (kalaniyot) and the monthlong Darom Adom Festival (Red South Festival) to celebrate their arrival.

Read more: As anemones bloom, south hopes visitors will pop up after lockdown

However, overcrowding led to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority calling on visitors not to go to the Dorot, Ruhama, Shokeda and Bari forests to see the flowers.

The festival is expected to continue until March 6.

Additionally, the authority said that entry to the Gamla, Nahal Ayun, Ein Afek, Carmel Park and Nahal Tavor parks was limited only to those who had booked and paid in advance.

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