Israel Eases Coronavirus Restrictions

Israel’s government has approved the reopening of many shops, hairdressers and beauty salons. But at the same time, fines for violating social distancing rules have been doubled and anyone caught without a mask will now pay a fine without receiving an initial warning.

It is only shops that are not in shopping malls that are allowed to open, and only then if they adhere to strict guidelines regarding cleanliness, protective gear and social distancing.

Hairdressers and beauty salons can also start work again if they adhere to relevant hygiene regulations.

Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem 24-April-2020Mahane Yehuda market, Jerusalem 24th April 2020 (photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel’s Health Ministry said business owners must prevent large gatherings of customers outside the premises and must display signs at entrances stating the number allowed in at any one time.

The new regulations state that an employee must be placed at the entrance of each business and be equipped with a digital thermometer to check each customer’s temperature.

Where possible, staff must try to stay two metres away from customers. But where that is not possible in barbers and beauty salons, staff must wear gloves and face protection, changing the gloves between each customer.

With these moves to slowly re-open parts of the economy, pressure is mounting for schools to reopen. Some special education classes resumed this week and community leaders want the Education Ministry to open primary schools in May.

The ministry has told management teams to prepare to reopen schools. But some are calling for at least kindergartens and grades 1-3 to do so by 3rd May.

These moves to reopen businesses come at a time when one measure to help control the spread of the virus has suffered a setback.

Extending the use of mobile-phone location data by police has been declined due to concerns over personal privacy.

A member of the committee that reviewed the measure said the harm done to privacy outweighed the benefits.

Thus far, the use of such data has helped lead to the arrest of 203 people for violating quarantine.