Israel Emerges from COVID-19 Lockdown

On Monday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu announced the easing of many restrictions upon activities in Israel. He emphasised the fact that Israel had fared better than many developed countries, suffering significantly fewer COVID-19 infections and fewer deaths.

The Israeli Prime Minister acknowledged the dedication of Israeli health workers, the important steps the government has taken to combat the spread of the virus and praised Israeli citizens for following the regulations. Those government steps include a controversial program of phone surveillance run by Israel’s Security Agency.

Netanyahu announces easing of restrictionsBenjamin Netanyahu announces the easing of restrictions (photo: AFP / GALI TIBBON)

Israelis are now allowed to travel up to 500 metres from home, rather than 100, and visit immediate relatives. But the Health Ministry has asked them to refrain from hugging, kissing and touching each other, maintaining a safe distance from each other instead.

Gatherings of up to 20 people are now allowed in open areas. The Prime Minister also revealed some forward planning in that, If the number of new infections continues to fall, gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed from 17th May and up to 100 people from 31st May.

If there is no second spike in the number of infections, the rest of the restrictions on public gatherings will be removed by 14th June.

Shopping centres and open-air markets are permitted to reopen from Thursday, but consuming food in these places will still be forbidden. Sporting facilities are also allowed reopen, apart from swimming pools and similar facilities.

Benjamin Netanyahu also stated that they will use three criteria to monitor any need to reimpose restrictions: (1) if 100 new infections are discovered in one day, (2) if cases double within 10 days, and (3) if 250 severe cases of COVID-19 are reported by hospitals.

He also stressed the continuing need to wash hands frequently, wear face masks in public and maintain social distancing.

A truly remarkable thing within this situation: this tiny country of Israel, with its small population and its own battle with the new coronavirus, has been active supporting other countries – including the USA!

Aid agencies IsraAID and SmartAID are distributing personal protective equipment and other relevant supplies to places as far apart as Puerto Rico, Haiti, Guatemala, the Bahamas, USA, Iraq, Mozambique and Australia.

This is an excellent example for other countries to follow.