פרק הירקון
Tel Aviv Yarkon Park
Enjoying the sunshine in Yarkon Park

In Tel Aviv, coronavirus is no bar to springtime fun

Routines are hard to break says one local resident who visited his local cafe despite warnings to avoid crowds; but in other parts of the country, the directives are being taken seriously and businesses are suffering

Ynet |
Published: 03.16.20 , 23:35
Warnings of an infectious disease and pleas to remain away from others seemed to fall on deaf ears Monday as thousands of residents of the Tel Aviv area headed to Yarkon Park to spend their enforced leisure time in the spring sunshine.
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  • With places of work and entertainment sites closed to the public, families headed out for picnics and sports and just to socialize with others.
    פרק הירקוןפרק הירקון
    Enjoying the sunshine in Yarkon Park
    "People are at a loss, we can either die of boredom or come and hang out here," one man said.
    "We are trying to maintain a distance from others, but this is the middle of the week and we have nowhere else to be."
    Amnon, who arrived at the park with his family and friends, said he and his wife were at home with their kids and decided to make the best of the situation.
    "The kids are playing, and the adults are talking to each other," he said.
    Yael came with her two babies and their older sister.
    "I can be apart from other people but still enjoy myself," she said.
    "We are trying to keep our distance and stay away from the swings because they could be dirty." she said, maintaining that there was nothing wrong with being in groups of fewer than 10 people.
    Liron also came with the kids.
    "I have to get them out of the house. They have to be active," she said.
    פרק הירקוןפרק הירקון
    Children out in Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv
    Many of the city's coffee shops remained opened and sold their products to be taken away, but city benches nearby had enticed people to hang about and soon dozens were lining up outside some of them.
    "We are trying to maintain our routine," said Danielle who lives near such a coffee shop, "The coronavirus is frightening but until we are all ordered into quarantine, I have no problem stepping outside and keeping my distance from others."
    Danielle said she was in the process pf claiming unemployment benefits.
    Shlomi was also frequenting his local café.
    "You can't just let go of old habits," he said. "I am working from home but there are too many distractions there, so I decided to go to my neighborhood café for a while."
    The rest of the country, however, appeared to be taking a more serious approach to the coronavirus.
    In Haifa, parking was never so easy in "Shawarma Row," where many of the meat restaurants are locacted, with many of the usual customers are staying away.
    חיפהחיפה
    Haifa restaurants have few customers
    (Photo: Ido Erez)
    "Businesses are closing their doors," one restaurant owner said as he worried about his staff that would be sent home.
    In Jerusalem too the streets were empty. Police officers on patrol made sure businesses were in compliance with regulations and only serving customers who took their orders and left.
    "Yesterday we stopped a man who was in quarantine but decided to visit his daughter at her boarding school," a policeman said.
    "He told us he thought that if he was driving alone it was like being quarantined. We began criminal proceedings against him."
    He said that violating quarantine orders could be punishable with a three-year prison sentence and willfully spreading a contagious disease could mean seven years of incarceration.
    The officers were on patrol with three layers of protection against exposure to the coronavirus, including masks, gloves and a protective suit, in case they encounter a person who is sick.
    "We work in complete cooperation with all the relevant departments and are prepared for any scenario," the policeman said, adding that law enforcement officers have been preparing for this for weeks.
    Near the Gaza border, business was also slow.
    "We are lucky we can still deliver food," one restaurant owner said.
    שדרות - סושי מוטושדרות - סושי מוטו
    A Sderot restaurant was empty of patrons
    (Photo: Roee Idan)
    Be'er Sheva municipality was still considering what steps to take to ensure businesses stay closed and what authority it has to enforce the government directives.
    In the coastal city of Netanya, shops and eateries were open for business although customers were staying away.
    "We are suffering," said one restaurant owner. "People who come by are just out for air. There are no orders for food."
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