Israel on Thursday evening approved gradual reopening of the economy despite strong objections from health authorities due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
During a six-hour government meeting, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was decided to slowly start reopening businesses which have been shut since emergency measures due to the spread of the virus were declared nearly a month ago.
The current proposal to open the economy, which is set to start taking effect on Sunday, was presented by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who claimed it is vital to begin lifting the current lockdown as soon as possible.
According to the proposal, trade, services and manufacturing will operated at 100 percent capacity as soon as next week if they are able to adhere to health directives.
Under Bennett's proposal all business will operate under a string of health and safety requirements:
1. Temperature will be checked at the entrance of each venue
2. Worker showing coronavirus symptoms will remain at home
3. Requirement of wearing protective face masks
4. Requirement of maintiaing a two-meter distance from one another
5. Required disinfection of public spaces every two hours
6. Creation of a sterile area for workers aged 50-65
Places such as big shopping centers, beauty salons and schools will remain closed as it would be impossible for these businesses to comply with the government guidelines.
It was agreed that the full list of requirements will be formulated by the health and finance ministries as well as the National Security Council by Saturday evening.
In addition, people over 65 and those at risk of complications from COVID-19 will remain in self-quarantine for the time being and will be eligible for unemployment benefits.
There will also be an establishment of a national project that would conduct mass coronavirus testing and analyze the results. The project is set to be managed by the IDF and the defense establishment.