Reopening malls in the Tel Aviv area is not likely to cause a major coronavirus contagion, according to a report by the Ministry of Intelligence Services requested by the National Economic Council and the Ministry of Economy.
The report was drafted in preparation for a hearing Monday at the National Economic Council regarding the opening of malls in the next round of steps to ease regulations, which is expected to take place on May 3.
Israel will reopen malls under certain restrictions - only retail stores will be allowed to open and restaurants and places of entertainment will remain closed.
The document - "Exit strategy in the retail market - implications of opening shopping malls" - analyzed different scenarios caused by opening malls in central Israel, based on the assumption that the repercussions felt in the heavily populated Tel Aviv region could then be applied to other areas of Israel.
The document was forwarded to the National Economic Council, headed by Prof. Avi Simhon, the economic adviser of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The study predicts a 1.5-5% rise in infections caused by opening the malls and states that the majority of those new infections would be unlikely to cause serious illness as most visitors would not be in a high-risk group.
The report concludes that a relatively widespread opening of malls would not lead to a significant increase in the rate of infection, but states that malls in areas suffering high mortality rates should remain closed.
In a cabinet meeting Saturday, Economy Minister Eli Cohen said detailed guidelines were required in order to reopen the malls.
“I estimate that if there is no deterioration in morbidity rates, malls can be reopened," said Cohen.
"With malls it is easier because there are defined entrances and exits," he said.
"We can do temperature tests, require visitors to wear gloves and masks and use an app to monitor customers to know if a sick or a quarantined person visited the area,” Cohen said.
Israel has been slowly but steadily lifting restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus as the number of recoveries continues to outpace the number of new infections.
As of Monday evening, the virus had claimed 204 lives in Israel, with 15,555 confirmed cases.
Of that total, 126 people were in serious condition, including 96 people on respirators.