Israel news summary

Israel News for 4-24-2020

News Update

To listen to an audio version click here. (for supporters)

Deaths from the coronavirus in Israel have risen to 193. There are 107 people on ventilators. Only 79 new cases have been reported.

The government today approved further lifting of coronavirus restrictions, which includes the reopening of all street shops, barbershops and beauty salons, beginning on Sunday. Shopping malls and gyms will remain closed. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out in addition to delivery.

The Health Ministry said it is the duty of each business owner to prevent large gatherings of customers outside the entrance. Owners also must put up signs at every entrance telling customers how many people are allowed inside. An employee must be placed at the entrance of each business equipped with digital thermometers to measure the temperature of each customer. Employees at barbershops and beauty salons must wear gloves, which have to be changed between each client, as well as protective face gear.

The Health Ministry is debating whether to quarantine the southern city of Netivot, due to the sharp increase in coronavirus cases apparently caused by 2 large seders on the first night of Passover.

The government today approved an NIS 8 billion ($2.27 billion) plan to increase support for self-employed Israelis and small business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus. The plan includes a grant of up to NIS 400,000 per business, depending on how much it has been impacted by the current crisis. It also includes a second stipend for self-employed workers and for people over 67 who have lost their jobs.

Unemployment in Israel had risen to 27.05 percent, or 1,125,814 people, including almost a million who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, unemployment in Israel was at a record low of under 4%.

The International Committee of the Red Cross yesterday delivered vital medical equipment to Gaza, including ventilators, to battle a possible coronavirus outbreak. The virus currently seems to be contained in Gaza.

While most Israelis stay close to home, construction crews are hard at work repairing and upgrading roads. They are also working on other large projects. Some of the biggest projects, like the final stretch of a new fast train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or the expansion of a highway in central Israel, will now be finished six months to a year ahead of schedule. A main street where part of Tel Aviv’s new subway is being built will be closed for 10 days rather than five weeks. The government has injected over 1 billion shekels ($280 million) into the accelerated building effort.

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz and MK Itzik Shmuli signed an agreement with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz today to join the new government coalition. Peretz will become Economy Minister and Shmuli will become Social Welfare Minister. The Labor leaders did not bring their decision to join the coalition to a vote of their party’s membership. Labor MK Merav Michaeli, who opposes entering the government, was not informed before the agreement was signed.