הקניון הגדול בפתח תקווה פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוט
Crowding at Grand Mall in Petah Tikva
Photo: Yair Sagie
Crowding at Grand Mall in Petah Tikva

Virus cabinet votes to reduce capacity at malls due to virus concerns

Ministers approve amendment to pilot for opening of shopping centers after images of crowded malls surface online over the weekend and amid fears of increased COVID-19 infections

Adir Yanko, Moran Azulay |
Published: 11.30.20 , 23:04
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.
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  • 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).
    הקניון הגדול בפתח תקווה פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוטהקניון הגדול בפתח תקווה פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוט
    Crowding at Grand Mall in Petah Tikva
    (Photo: Yair Sagie)
    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.
    קניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוטקניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוט
    Malcha Mall in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    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.
    קניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוטקניון מלחה בירושלים פתח את שעריו כחלק מהפיילוט
    (Amit Shabi)
    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.
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