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October 12, 2020 9:58 am

Slow and Steady: Israeli Health Ministry Rolls Out Lockdown Exit Strategy

avatar by Israel Hayom /

A street cleaner walks past shuttered shops, amid Israel’s second national coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Ashkelon, Israel, Oct. 7, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen. – The Israeli Health Ministry released its COVID-19 lockdown exit strategy late Saturday night, detailing a gradual lifting of the measures limiting economic and public activity over four months.

According to Channel 12 News, if morbidity data supports rolling back the lockdown, the plan will be set in motion on Oct. 18, with target dates for the various stages of easing the restrictions.

The Health Ministry said that exiting the lockdown at this time could be considered as recent days have seen a steady drop in both the morbidity rate and the number of daily cases. According to the report, before the first stage of the plan can be implemented, the number of daily cases must drop to 2,000. This will allow opening preschools as well as businesses that do not receive customers.

At this point, the restriction on traveling more than 1,000 yards from one’s home will be lifted, as will restrictions placed on protests and family gatherings. Restaurants will be able to offer takeaway, as opposed to delivery only, and Ben-Gurion International Airport will resume full operations.

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Once the number of daily cases drops to 1,000, the ministry will instate the second stage, currently slated for Nov. 1, which will see the first-to-fourth grade students resume classes. Synagogue services will reopen and elective medical procedures will resume.

The third stage of the plan, slated for mid-November—assuming the daily number of cases drops to 500—will see retailers with in-store customers open, as well as gyms and shopping malls.

Once the daily case tally drops to 250, which the ministry said could happen by late November, restaurants and cafes will be able to resume operations in full, as will various leisure venues.

The Health Ministry has set no specific targets to mark the fifth stage of the exit plan, saying only that it is likely to take place in late mid-December. The fifth stage includes allowing pools, hotels and guest houses to reopen.

The sixth stage, slated for late December, will see museums and entertainment venues open and allow the resumption of group sports.

Next, in what the ministry believes will be early January 2021, the education system will resume full operations, and in the final and eighth stage, in late January, audiences will be allowed at sporting events, clubs and bars.

Channel 12 News reported that Education Minister Yoav Gallant has stated that he plans to fight to reopen schools as soon as possible, arguing that it has been proven that the student body has little to no effect on overall morbidity.

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