Fifteen malls and an unspecified number of museums will reopen for one week across Israel starting Friday in what the government calls a coronavirus "pilot".
Israel's coronavirus cabinet, which leads the government's response to the pandemic, voted Wednesday night to launch the pilot, having approved it in principle during a meeting on Tuesday.
The decision came after major retailers slammed the government's decision to reopen open-air shopping centers but not indoor malls. The reopening falls on the biggest day in retail called Black Friday, although the government did not say the move to reopen the malls on November 27 was pre-planned.
Among the shopping centers participating in the pilot are Ofer (Melisron) malls in Be'er Sheva, Petah Tikva and northern Israel, Azrieli Mall in Malcha in Jerusalem and Ayalon Mall in Ramat Gan.
In addition, at least nine more malls with at least 20 stores will be opened: three in northern Israel, three in central Israel and Tel Aviv and three in Jerusalem and southern Israel.
Following the decision, Melisron announced it will open its malls in northern Israel, Petah Tikva and Be'er Sheva starting midnight between Thursday and Friday if they get the consent of 50% of the store owners, giving retailers times to prepare for Black Friday (November 27), considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year and most profitable in retail, which will give the needed financial boost to the struggling businesses.
Clothing brand FOX announced it will take part in the initiative.
The malls participating in the pilot will have to adhere to a list of strict regulations as determined by the Health Ministry, including the questioning of visitors, measuring their body temperatures, and recording their details at the entrance to the complex.
Additionally, each mall will be allowed a limited number of visitors in a ratio of one person per seven meters and up to 10 visitors in each store.
The malls will also operate hundreds of cameras as well as patrols, whose job would be to monitor the number of visitors is not being exceeded and make sure all visitors are wearing masks at all times.
The malls will also be asked also to make sure surfaces inside the malls are being disinfected on a regular basis.
Association of Retail, Fashion and Catering Chairman Shahar Turgeman slammed to government's decision to further delay the reopening of malls that face severe financial hardship due to extended closures.
"Malls have been closed for 122, businesses are collapsing, leaving thousands of families without a livelihood. This is how it is when [politicians] lose touch with the people," he said. "If the pilot does not start tomorrow morning as decided by the coronavirus cabinet, we will open all our stores in all the malls all across the State of Israel."
CEO of Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv Dan Pilz said their facilities allow safe relaunch of commerce under coronavirus.
"There is no reason for us not to reopen. We've got ventilation and skilled staff that can handle the Health Ministry's coronavirus regulations and the new outline," Pilz said. "We will do whatever it takes to open."
In addition, the proposal submitted to the ministers also calls for the opening of four museums - including two that are not in the center of the country.
According to a Health Ministry's announcement, the Israel Museum, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Eretz Israel Museum and the Madatech in Haifa will open.
Three more museums will be selected in a Culture and Sports Ministry raffle and two of the selected museums will have to be in the Haifa, northern or southern Israel.