Trains to gradually resume on May 16
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Trains to gradually resume on May 16

Move still requires a green light from the Health Ministry; passengers to have temperatures taken before boarding

View of the empty Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, due to the government restrictions following the spread of the coronavirus, April 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the empty Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, due to the government restrictions following the spread of the coronavirus, April 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel Railways will resume train routes gradually, beginning May 16, the Transportation Ministry said Thursday.

All trains have been suspended amid the pandemic over fears of overcrowding in the cars, while buses have continued running on a restricted schedule, stopping in the evenings and canceling weekend lines.

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday met with railway officials to discuss the resumption of services. He said the lines would resume in two weeks, provided the plan receives the final go-ahead from the Health Ministry.

Train passengers will be expected to keep social distancing rules and wear masks and the railway service was preparing to conduct temperature checks at the train stops.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks outside the closed Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem, due to the government restrictions following the spread of the coronavirus, April 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In recent days, Israel’s infection rate has dropped off significantly, with only dozens of new cases being reported every 12 hours, and the government has announced steps to ease restrictions on businesses and travel.

Thursday was the fourth consecutive day with fewer than 200 new cases.

Israel on Thursday returned to some semblance of normalcy, with much of the country opening up following two days of ramped up restrictions in place for the Memorial Day and Independence Day holidays.

A woman wears a face mask for fear of the coronavirus as she takes the train to Haifa, on March 17, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Starting Thursday at 8 a.m., the 500-meter limitation on the distance from home in which Israelis can exercise was lifted, with no further restrictions on physical activity. However, group exercise is still banned, as is exercise in parks.

Most stores are allowed to open, though leisure venues will continue to remain closed, as will all shops in malls except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Eateries are allowed to open for takeaway and deliveries, though not for sitting in.

Beginning Sunday, some students are set to return to school, though final approval depends on the findings of research on infection rates among children that was presented to government ministers and a vote by ministers expected Friday.

Social distancing regulations and a requirement to cover mouth and nose with a mask remain in place.

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