Israel's coronavirus cabinet is apparently expected to postpose the reopening of the country's malls, open-air markets and gyms as the COVID-19 infection rate appears to be on the rise yet again.
The cabinet tasked with battling the pandemic is set to convene on Wednesday to vote the third phase of the exit plan from the nationwide lockdown, which also includes bringing back to school children in fifth and sixth grade.
While the third phase of the exit plan was set to begin two weeks after the start of the second phase, the alarming increase in the infection coefficient looks like it will cause an indefinite postponement.
At the moment, the coefficient stands at 0.91, while the prerequisite for moving into the third phase is having the R being at least 0.8. As a result, health professionals recommend taking precautions and delaying the reopening.
In addition, the government and the National Security Council discussed alternatives to the current lockdown that would reduce the infection rate.
The possible alternatives include imposing closures on specific cities and communities with high infection rate, implementing nightly and weekend curfews and other measures aimed at reducing overcrowding.
Finance Minister Israel Katz, meanwhile, has expressed his opposition to the postponement of the third phase's implementation and the continued shuttering of certain businesses.
It is believed, however, the majority of ministers in the cabinet will vote to postpone any further easing of lockdown restrictions.
In the meantime, officials in the education system have asked the cabinet to decide on whether to reopen schools for grades five and six soon as possible in order to allow them to prepare.
"We need at least three to four days to prepare in time for the return of fifth and sixth graders, so we hope a final decision is made as early as possible and not at the last minute," said Avi Kaminsky, chairman of the association of municipal education department directors.
According to Kaminsky, the education departments must be given the guidelines for reopening in advance. "Bringing back students after many weeks of studying from home requires reorganization," he said.
"This is not only a technical matter, but also an educational one. We need to regulate the issue of afterschool programs and redesign the school's curriculum."
Meanwhile, the national parent leadership is demanding for schools to reopen as soon as Sunday.
“We demand the coronavirus cabinet shows leadership and responsibility and not succumb to political and other pressures. This is another nail in the coffin for education in Israel. It makes no sense for students in green cities to pay the price.”