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Coronavirus testing center in Safed
Photo: Clalit HMO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

No trains or theaters: Israel set to freeze reopening of economy

Netanyahu says it's time to 'put the brakes on' due to the rise in new coronavirus cases, likely postponing the reopening of culture centers and railway traffic; weddings of up to 250 people will likely be permitted; 1,000 railway workers on unpaid leave since March decry decision

Itamar Eichner |
Published: 06.08.20 , 13:59
The ministerial committee handling the coronavirus outbreak was set to vote Monday to freeze any further reopening of the economy as Israel saw a resurgence of the disease across the country.
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  • The Health Ministry said over the past week at least 800 people tested positive for COVID-19 with 100 daily diagnoses reported on average, the biggest increase since the peak of the epidemic in mid-April.
     ישיבת ממשלה ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "It’s time to put the brakes on in light of the rising infection rate,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the meeting of ministers.
    The decision means that all theatres, cinemas, event halls and live shows venues that were set to reopen on June 14 will not resume operations until further notice. Weddings of up to 250 people, however, will likely be permitted from now on, in accordance with health guidelines.
    Planned resumption of train services is now also likely to be on hold, having been delayed four times already.
    תחנת רכבת מרכז ריקהתחנת רכבת מרכז ריקה
    Empty railway station
    (Photo: Assaf Zagriak )
    Chairwoman of Israel Railways Workers Committee Gila Edri urged the prime minister to allow trains to resume operating in order to bring back over 1,000 employees who’ve been on unpaid leave for over 70 days.
    “We regret the decision not to reopen train services,” she said. “We have the ability to maintain public and employee health. The company's management and staff have prepared a comprehensive plan to be able to comply with all the Health Ministry's guidelines.”
    בדיקות בצפתבדיקות בצפת
    Coronavirus testing center in Safed
    (Photo: Clalit HMO)
    Health Minister Yuli Edelstein during the same meeting insisted the economy and railway traffic should reopen as planned despite the increase in the number of new cases.
    "Minimum danger, maximum protection,” he said at the start of the special cabinet meeting. “The police must go back to strong enforcement [of health orders] in malls, buses, trains, restaurants, event halls and elsewhere to make the public more disciplined.”
    חיטוי וניקויון בתחנות ורכבות ישראל למניעת התפשטות נגיף הקורונהחיטוי וניקויון בתחנות ורכבות ישראל למניעת התפשטות נגיף הקורונה
    Railway station being disinfected
    (Photo: Israel Railways )
    The delay of railway traffic has already drawn the ire from Israelis who struggle to get to work using overcrowded bus services.
    In addition, the traffic on Ayalon Highway, from north to south, will be severely limited starting Wednesday due to the construction of a new route.
    The project is set to create additional traffic jams, especially due to the lack of train services.
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