Coronavirus Numbers Dwindle, Optimism Grows

YERUSHALAYIM -
The still-closed Hadar shopping mall in Yerushalayim on Tuesday. Malls will re-open on Thursday. (Olivirer Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israeli officials are looking at an accelerated pace of national recovery as the number of coronavirus cases dwindle.

In line with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏’s guardedly optimistic remarks in a broadcast address the night before, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said on Tuesday that he hopes all coronavirus-related restrictions will be lifted within six weeks and possibly even by the end of the month.

“We will allow gatherings, up to 100 people. We will allow more classrooms to be opened, after-school activities, parks, swimming pools, competitive sports and restaurants. We hope to do all that by the end of the month,” he said in an online conference.

Also, the Education Ministry released guidelines for kindergartens for children ages 3 to 6, confirming a return on Sunday under certain restrictions.

Classes will be limited to a maximum of 18 children at any one time, to be accomplished on a staggered schedule: kindergarten groups will be divided, with half of the children attending Sunday through Tuesday and the others on Wednesday through Friday. Each week the children will switch their allocated days.

Children will be able to attend from 7:55 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with no afternoon programs.

“Parents will return to their jobs and thus the economy will return to activity and children to their daily routines, all with the maximum adherence to the Health Ministry guidelines,” Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a lockdown was reinstated in the Bedouin town of Hura near Beersheva, which has the second-highest coronavirus infection rate in the country, after the restrictions expired at midnight due to a bureaucratic error.

There have been 123 confirmed cases among Hura’s population of 16,983, according to Health Ministry data, including 20 new infections over the last three days. The number of cases there has tripled over the last week — the highest growth rate in Israel.

Channel 12 reports that despite the number of cases in the town, residents took advantage of the closure being lifted temporarily to return to normal.