The National Security Council cautioned Monday against reopening any high street shops next week while ministers in the coronavirus cabinet were meeting to discuss further steps in Israel's exit strategy from the second month-long lockdown imposed to stop the spread of disease.
Schools were again the focus of ministers' discussions, a day after they decided to allow first and second graders to return to school next week under strict mitigation restrictions.
According to the decision, first and second graders will only attend school for half of the week, with classes divided into two separate groups that would not be allowed to mix. Students and staff will be required to wear masks in the classrooms and on school buses.
Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen asked Education Minister Yoav Galant if the plan to return students to school part-time included distance learning from home, to which the education minister replied that he did not yet know.
That decision came a week on from the reopening of kindergartens for ages 0-6.
Galant had sought billions of shekels to allow schools to reopen safely with all first to fourth graders learning in capsules, which Netanyahu said the state could not afford.
The decision on part-time schooling stands to be opposed by the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, which insists all students in grades 1-4 immediately return to school full-time, wherever possible and in cooperation with local governments.
The chair of the Knesset committee, Blue & White MK Ram Shefa, said: "Children must go back to school as the emotional, educational and economic cost [of having them stay home] is immense."
But the call to reopen schools for the first four grades has come under criticism from educators and parents, as well as the Blue & White ministers on the coronavirus cabinet.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday agreed to a suggestion by Galant to meet with the heads of local authorities to hear their plans for reopening schools in their areas.
Coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu was also to brief ministers on the latest data that shows Monday's R value (the number of other people a coronavirus carrier can infect) stood at 0.63, and that number of hospitalized patients has stabilized.
Gamzu was to caution, however, that the data still indicates undetected morbidity across Israel and warn ministers of the danger of infection originating from the West Bank.
He was also to brief ministers on the rise in COVID-19 cases in Israel's Arab community, which although having suffered case surges before the lockdown was able to reduce morbidity after large weddings and gatherings were banned. But weddings have now resumed, causing further spread of the disease.
The professor has already begun urging quarantine for Israeli Arabs returning from Palestinian Authority territories, as well as testing for Palestinian workers entering Israel for their jobs. Such testing would be the responsibility of employers, the defense establishment and the IDF Home Front Command.
Meanwhile, the northern Druze town of Majdal Shams was to begin a new lockdown Monday at 6pm as morbidity there has begun to spike once again.