The so-called Coronavirus Cabinet, which leads the government's response to the pandemic, voted Monday evening to reduce capacity at malls after Israelis flocked to shopping centers over the weekend, raising concerns of an influx of COVID-19 infections.
Ministers passed an amendment to a pilot for the opening of malls which will reduce maximum capacity from one person per 7 square meters (75 square feet) to one person per 15 square meters (160 square feet).
The amendment also excludes areas whose operation is prohibited, such as movie theaters.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Monday that the government made an erroneous decision in allowing commerce to resume too quickly despite a rise in coronavirus cases across Israel after images of crowded shopping malls surfaced online over the weekend.
Saturday evening, he instructed Health Ministry Director General Prof. Hezi Levy and Coronavirus Czar Prof. Nachman Asch to deliberate about a new outline for malls and hand him their conclusions by the beginning of the week.
However, data showed that despite long queues and poor crowd management, the number of visitors at the malls last Friday was lower than Health Ministry estimates.
Only 7,000 people visited Azrieli Group's three malls, which opened as part of the pilot, during peak hours on Friday while the plan's outline allows them to host up to 22,000 customers. The group has put a 20,000-customer cap out of an abundance of caution.
The Cabinet also approved the opening of markets under a series of restrictions, including hiring ushers that will regulate customer flow and instruct the public to observe health guidelines. Operators will be obliged to remind shoppers to observe social distancing and avoid gatherings at least every thirty minutes through a PA system. Eating at the market's premises will also be prohibited.
Several museums around the country will also open on an experimental footing, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv and Madatech in Haifa among others.