Coronavirus Cabinet Allows Synagogues to Open

Late at night on Thursday, the coronavirus cabinet held a meeting to talk about the second stage of Israel’s exit strategy. It is going to convene on Sunday and allow the country to resume a sense of normalcy. 

Various establishments were given permission to reopen however, the members decided not to approve of street shops. The countless protests by owners of these small stores were not enough to move the coronavirus cabinet.

The cabinet gave permission to schools to resume educational activities for grades one through four. One-on-one services and activities such as personal training and driving lessons were also given permission to operate. Beds and breakfasts and salons will also resume from Sunday onwards, and alternative medical treatments will be offered. 

Members of the cabinet also agreed that it was in the best interests of everyone to reopen synagogues. But, only 10 people can be inside at a time. Haredi ministers were not satisfied with the number of people being so less and tried to pressure the cabinet into increasing it. Nevertheless, the request was rejected. 

Additionally, the ministers agreed that the nine-stage exit strategy, which had been initially proposed by the Health Ministry, was too complicated. Thus, they decided to replace it with a six-stage plan presented by the National Security Council. 

Small business owners on Thursday, had taken to the streets while the meeting convened. They begged the government to give them permission to operate. But, the cabinet was not moved and decided to delay the reopening of shops until next week. They stated that until there was a significant drop in the number of patients of the virus, small businesses could not be allowed to operate. 

Senior officials of the Health Ministry had previously warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that reopening retail was highly risky and dangerous. They had said that it could lead to a rise in morbidity. 

Meri Ben-Shabbat, the head of the National Security Council, joined forces with Prof. Ronni Gamzu, the coronavirus commissioner, to discuss the current situation with the cabinet. The two explained that though there is a dire need for the country to move on to the next stage of the exit strategy, the fragility of the situation must be taken seriously. 

It was further highlighted that the basic reproduction number has increased. The Arab sector continues to display high morbidity and is, therefore, a cause for concern. The two men informed that the scope of the tests has been expanded but, it is still low considering the past and predicted numbers. The effects of allowing several establishments to reopen are yet to be observed.

Thus, the Health Ministry warned that the reopening of small businesses and stores could cause a delay in the implementation of the third stage of the exit strategy. 

On Wednesday, the country reported 688 new cases of the coronavirus. Around 440 people were found to be in critical condition whereas, 191 were intubated. The death toll had stayed constant at 2,508.