מרכז קניות ביג ירכא
An abandoned BIG shopping center during coronavirus pandemic
Photo: Shamir Elbaz
An abandoned BIG shopping center during coronavirus pandemic

Coalition replaces Knesset panel members to keep shopping centers shuttered

In an unusual move, Likud replaces three of its lawmakers after they refuse to make a distinction between outdoor shopping centers and high-street shops; Health Minister Edelstein attempts to convince party mates there was a difference in coronavirus infections between the two instances

Moran Azulay |
Published: 11.09.20 , 18:21
Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee voted Monday afternoon to keep shopping centers closed as part of the measures to curb COVID-19 after the coalition was forced to replace three of the ruling Likud party's permanent MKs in the panel to secure the majority vote.
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  • The committee took a recess after failing to reach a majority for the approval of the new government regulations.
    מרכז קניות ביג ירכאמרכז קניות ביג ירכא
    An abandoned BIG shopping center during coronavirus pandemic
    (Photo: Shamir Elbaz)
    Coalition Chairman MK Mickey Zohar entered the room during the recess to replace another committee member. Members of the predominantly Arab Joint List party also abstained, guaranteeing the coalition will have the majority it needed to pass the bill.
    Likud lawmakers Amit Halevi and Ariel Kallner both refused to vote, saying they were unwilling to make a distinction between high-street shops, which opened on Sunday, and businesses in outdoor shopping centers.
    Health Minister Yuli Edelstein called Halevi and Kallner during the meeting in an attempt to persuade them that data showed a clear difference in coronavirus infections between the two instances.
    Blue & White lawmakers agreed to support the regulations on the condition that Likud also supported them.
    ישראל כץישראל כץ
    Finance Minister Israel Katz
    (Photo: Avi Moalem)
    Likud's Finance Minister Israel Katz said Monday morning that outdoor shopping centers and malls will open next Tuesday as part of the government's exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown despite the Health Ministry's pleas to reconsider the move.
    "There is a decision to open malls, outdoor shopping centers and markets next Tuesday and if the morbidity index allows it, we should follow through," Katz said. "All the talk in the middle from the Ministry of Health is unnecessary. It is their plan."
    Dr. Sharon Elrai-Price, acting head of the Health Ministry's public health services division, said that following past experience, it would be better to condition further lifting restrictions on epidemiological targets as opposed to hard-set dates.
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