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April 23, 2020 2:24 pm
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Israel Set to Further Loosen Coronavirus Restrictions, Schools Begin to Prepare for Reopening

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Customers line up inside an IKEA store in Rishon Lezion, Israel, amid the coronavirus pandemic, April 23, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

After slightly loosening restrictions on movement and allowing certain businesses to reopen this week, Israel is set to further ease the current economic and social lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Israeli news site N12 reported that the cabinet is expected to approve on Thursday new guidelines that would come into effect on Sunday.

The new regulations will allow stores open to the street to resume normal operations. Hairdressers will reopen as well, but workers will have to wear protective clothing — masks, gloves and eyewear. Take-away from restaurants will also be permitted. Outdoor markets will remain closed.

Although schools and kindergartens will not reopen for the moment, the Education Ministry is taking preliminary steps toward doing so.

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The Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that administrative staff, along with janitors and secretaries, would be returning to work.

Administrators will begin the process of preparing for a return to normal routine and promote remote learning. Secretarial work, budget management and other bureaucratic tasks will also be done.

Registration of new students and preparing for exams will be undertaken, along with preparation for the next school year and the maintenance of school facilities.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz said, “Step by step, the education system is returning to normal within limits. We are constantly working to restore the educational system as soon as possible and the return of the school administrative staff is another step along the way.”

“We are ready to gradually return to routine, in small groups and in rotation,” he added. “If businesses and shopping centers are opened, there’s no reason that education should not return, even if in a different format.”

Peretz reportedly advocated for a possible reopening of schools after Independence Day next week, but was met with a negative reception.

The Bank of Israel has estimated that the long-term economic loss of a single week of regular schooling is approximately NIS 1 billion ($284 million).

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