Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that retail shops will be allowed to resume business on Sunday, with a four-customer limit.
Netanyahu said that the decision was reached during Wednesday’s coronavirus Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office reported.
However, he warned, if the “certain increase in [COVID-19] morbidity” observed since the easing on Oct. 18 of the country’s second nationwide lockdown rises even more, “we will need to stop and maybe tighten the restrictions.”
He also said that he hopes the four-customer-limit rule is “respected.”
The decision to enter the next stage of the gradual reopening of the economy, following two weeks during which a number of previous restrictions were lifted, was opposed by the Health Ministry, Channel 12 reported on Thursday.
This opposition, the report stated, is based on data presented at the meeting by outgoing National Coronavirus Project Coordinator Ronni Gamzu showing a rise in morbidity since the easing of restrictions. The Finance Ministry, on the other hand, has been pushing hard to reopen stores and all businesses, which have been hit hard by the shutdowns.
According to Health Ministry data, Israel’s morbidity rate stood at two percent on Wednesday night, down from more than 15 percent at the height of the “second wave” of the virus.
As of Thursday afternoon, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic stood at 317,668, 9,407 of which are currently active. There were 357 patients in serious condition, with 157 on ventilators. Since the onset of the pandemic, 2,638 people in Israel have died of the disease.