Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-17-2020

News Update

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Deaths from the coronovirus in Israel have risen to 149. There are 122 people on ventilators. The good news is that the new infection rate is dropping and the recovery rate is increasing. The corner seems to have turned.

During a 6 hour government meeting, headed by PM Netanyahu, it was decided to slowly start reopening businesses, which have been shut since emergency measures due to the spread of the virus were declared nearly a month ago.

According to the proposal, submitted by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, trade, services and manufacturing will operate at 100 percent capacity as soon as next week if they are able to adhere to the following health directives:

1. Temperatures will be checked at the entrance of each venue

2. Workers showing coronavirus symptoms will remain at home

3. Wearing protective face masks is required

4. A two-meter distance from one another must be maintained

5. Public spaces must be disinfected every two hours

6. Creation of a sterile area for workers aged 50-65

Places such as big shopping centers, beauty salons and schools will remain closed.

In addition, people over 65 and those at risk of complications from COVID-19 will remain in self-quarantine for the time being and will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

A system of mass testing for the virus will be established, managed by the IDF and the defense establishment.

Bnei Brak and certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem will remain under lockdown through next week.

Muslim clerics have closed down the Al-Aqsa mosque compound (Temple Mount) for the entire month of Ramadan, which begins on April 23. The ban took effect on March 23.

The virus did not stop 2,000 demonstrators from gathering at Habima Square in central Tel Aviv to protest the current political deadlock and “the erosion of Israeli democracy” under PM Netanyahu.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecasted Israel’s economy contracting by 6.3% in 2020 due to the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic and not returning to its current level until 2022.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Israel Research Department published a forecast that predicted that the economy would contract by 5.3% in 2020 but that this would be more than compensated by 8.7% growth in 2021. The Bank of Israel’s forecast is based on the economy returning to full operations by June.

Food sales in Israel reached an all-time high in March 2020, at over NIS 4.36 billion, which is NIS 1.2b more than last year. The rise is apparently due to a combination of coronavirus and Passover.