Israelis on Sunday capitalized on lockdown curbs being eased and flocked to high-street shops that reopened after nearly two months of full nationwide lockdown during which trade was heavily restricted.
Israel saw its street shops reopen after the government voted to further ease the coronavirus lockdown during a cabinet meeting last week. The shops are supposed to operate in accordance with strict health restrictions, which includes letting in up to four customers in one store.
Due to stores' limited capacity, hundreds of Israelis had to stand in long lines for hours, resulting in overcrowding.
"We have a wedding tomorrow and we came to buy clothes," said Aviad, who came to Mamilla Mall, the only open-air mall in Jerusalem, with his wife and son.
"It gives us health, going out is like taking vitamins, it's a pleasure," said Aliza, who came out to buy a dress for her grandson's bar mitzvah in Jerusalem alongside her sister, Dina. "It's fun going out and seeing people, see life, sunshine and cafes."
"So far, I have not found anything, but we want to help businesses so we will come out with full bags today," Dina said. "We'll find something."
However, many stores, including prominent high-street fashion brands like Zara and Castro, remained closed much to customers' disappointment. "You can order clothes to your home, but I missed feeling the clothes, trying them on," said Shoham, one of the buyers at the mall.
Customers could also observe many stores that have closed down in recent months with "for rent" signs displayed at the front.
In Tel Aviv, people lined up mostly in front of reopened sports retailers, with some waiting up to an hour to get inside.
Meital, who came to the Decathlon store at Rothschild Boulevard to buy a pair of running shoes, said she waited in line for almost 50 minutes.
"It seems that everyone is ready to change their wardrobe or shoes after two months of everything being closed," she said. "Inside it is rather calm, because the staff makes sure everyone is wearing masks and social distancing, but outside the wait is just unbearable."
Store owners were also very excited to be back in business.
"We've waited for this for a long time," said Shahaf, a store owner at Ramot Mall in the capital. "We follow all health directives. First of all, all customers must wear masks and stand at a two-meter distance from one another.
"There is a very long line outside. There is demand, winter has arrived. People just got into a situation where they have no clothes. Thankfully we didn’t get stuck with merchandise from the summer. We put everything on sale, made some beautiful promotions, we worked on deliveries, through our website."