Israel’s Ministry of Health OKs reopening of synagogues

Coronavirus restrictions easing, but indoor prayers will be limited to groups of only 10 people.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s Ministry of Health Friday announced details of the next stage of easing coronavirus restrictions that includes a return to school for grades 1-4, opening of some small businesses and the resumption of indoor prayer in synagogues, although limited to a maximum of 10 worshipers at a time.

Facing massive pressure from different sectors of the economy that have been hard hit by the pandemic, cabinet ministers had been arguing among themselves as to which restrictions to ease.

Despite calls from business owners, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sided with Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to limit the openings and set a goal of hitting a weekly average of 500 new infections a day before street shops could open.

“We have reached a point where we can maintain a routine of life in corona’s shadow until the vaccines are received, but all this is conditional on us continuing to follow the guidelines and especially continue to work together,” Netanyahu tweeted.

“This is the only way, there is no other way for victory over corona and together with the help of God, we will subdue the virus.” the prime minister said.

On Friday, Health Ministry statistics showed 630 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the past day with 11,362 active cases among Israel’s 9.2 million citizens.

Of the 724 people hospitalized with coronavirus, 429 were listed in serious condition with 188 of them connected to ventilators.

Those numbers reflect the success of the national lockdown that was imposed in September when daily infections soared, topping out at 9,000 by the beginning of October when there were more than 60,000 people actively sick with the virus.

Israel’s death toll since the beginning of the epidemic stands at 2,514.

Included in the businesses allowed to open starting Sunday are bed and breakfasts, hair and cosmetic salons and businesses described as one-on-one such as driving lessons and personal fitness training.

The unemployment in Israel is sitting at 14.6%, with an additional 118,000 joining the jobless ranks in the past month due to the latest lockdown.