Israel on Sunday began stepping out of its month-long coronavirus lockdown, the second one for this year, with the reopening of kindergartens and nurseries.
As part of the country's gradual exit plan from closure, the education system was expected to return to action for students aged 0-6. Some localities postponed the resumption of the school year to Monday, while Tel Aviv and Ness Ziona are among those to incorporate distance learning to decrease the risk of contagion.
Additionally, some workplaces are set to reopen but will not be able to receive costumers in person; eateries will once more provide takeout services to customers and nature reserves, national parks and beaches will open for the public.
Israel also rolled back some travel restrictions, allowing citizens to venture farther than 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away from home and visit other's homes as long as they do not exceed a cap on gatherings limited to 20 people outdoors and 10 people indoors, which will remain in effect for the time being.
Prominent religious sites in the capital of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall plaza, the Temple Mount compound and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will reopen for worship under certain restrictions.
At the same time, several cities with high coronavirus infection rates would be declared restricted areas and restrictions on them would be extended until Wednesday this week – including the southern neighborhoods of Bnei Brak, Modi'in Illit, Beitar Illit, Elad, Rekhasim and several Jerusalem neighborhoods. However, kindergartens are also reopened in these areas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the ultra-Orthodox sector Saturday evening to comply with the new state of affairs and not reopen elementary schools, despite some prominent religious figures announcing they intended to do so.
"I call on the ultra-Orthodox public and its leaders to not do it," Netanyahu told a press briefing. "We followed the health teams' recommendation to open kindergartens in "red cities" [cities with coronavirus infection rates]. We explicitly said that we should not open beyond that."
"We have a limited number of police officers and inspectors and we will use them. We don't have the option to send an officer to each and every street corner and every alley in every city. I do not wish to see violence. I respect the world of the Torah, but I also respect the health of Israeli citizens. I appeal to common sense and kind hearts of all people – secular and ultra-Orthodox as one. We cannot cheat the virus. Our success depends on you."