Israel adjusts some corona restrictions, no sign yet of flu season

More customers allowed into large stores, zoos reopen, but no signs yet of winter flu as Israel prepares 4.3 million flu shots.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The director of the Health Ministry said Thursday that some coronavirus restrictions were being adjusted, but Israel’s coronavirus infection rate was still too high to go the the next stage of reopening the economy.

Large stores will be allowed to have up to 20 customers instead of four, zoos will be reopened, and those hotels that are allowed to be open can operate dining rooms and swimming pools at 50% capacity, the Health Ministry said.

At an online briefing to journalists, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Chezy Levy said there were no signs yet of winter flu.

“There are about a million people vaccinated with a high rate of them aged 60-65, and a high rate of vaccinated among community medical staffs and hospitals,” Levy said, adding that the Ministry would have an additional 4.3 million flu shots available by the end of the month for the rest of Israel’s 9.2 citizens.

Levy noted that the number of new infections daily is showing a recent upward trend, but he said it is not yet significant.

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“It’s not a rapid rise, but it is rising,” Levy said, adding that Israel was at the third stage of a six-stage reopening process and the infection rate would have to drop before the next stage.

Following the decision to reopen hotels in the southern resort city of Eilat and the Dead Sea, the ministry set up inspection stations for vacationers who are required to show a negative coronavirus test before being allowed past roadblocks leading to the hotels.

Several shopping malls that have been closed since a national lockdown was imposed in September announced they would reopen their doors without approval. Levy called on them to back down and wait for the results of a test the Health Ministry was running on specific malls.

“This is not the time to open malls in a sweeping manner, Levy said. “We are going to a pilot that will include several malls in several places, to see if there is an ability to control the number of shoppers entering the stores and the ability to locate them.”

Health Ministry statistics showed that in the past day 780 Israelis tested positive for coronavirus with 8,381 active cases in the country. Of the 519 people hospitalized with coronavirus, 304 people were listed in serious condition with 136 of them connected to ventilators.

Health officials have said that in order to get to the next stage of reopening the economy, the infection rate has to drop to an average of 500 per day over one week.

Israel’s death toll since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 2,739.