Coronavirus Decimates Israeli Flag Business Ahead of National Days

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yad Vashem Security guard stands at the empty Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Spring is the season for Israel’s “national” holidays, beginning with Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commences Monday night, and through Memorial Day and Independence Day next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

This is generally also the season for the flying of Israeli flags – but the flag industry is another casualty of COVID-19. Marom FGP, one of the largest manufacturers of Israeli flags, told Maariv that orders for flags were down 40% this year. While flags are still on sale in supermarkets and other stores which have permits to open, the large number of orders they usually get from from hotels, schools, restaurants and municipalities has dropped by some 95%.

The reason for that is because the mass events held on these days – from gatherings at synagogues and community centers on Holocaust Remembrance Day to the mass visitations of soldiers’ kevarim on Memorial Day, to the municipality-organized entertainment events that take place in many Israeli cities on Independence Day – have all been canceled. Any commemorations or celebrations will be held online, or within the nuclear family. While there has been talk of allowing two families to visit with each other on Independence Day, the government has not yet decided on that.

Current rules on social quarantine – with individuals required to wear masks and maintain a distance of at least two meters from others – are in force until at least a week from Friday, after which the government will decide on whether to further liberalize restrictions – or roll them back, closing many of the stores in the electronics, furniture, office supply and other areas that were given permits to reopen this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Motzoei Shabbos.

Avi Milberger, CEO of the 37-year-old Marom FGP, told Maariv that “because of Health Ministry rules we have transferred sewing machines to the homes of our workers in order to fill the few orders we did get. We have been sewing several large flags that were mostly ordered by residents of apartment buildings,” he said.