The ministerial coronavirus cabinet voted early Tuesday night to approve a pilot that would see 15 malls and shopping centers across the country reopen for one week.
The decision was made after pressure from major retailers that slammed the government's decision to reopen open-air shopping centers but not regular malls. Over the weekend two of Israel's most prominent holding companies - Azrieli and Melisron - decided to reopen some of their malls in clear violation of the Health Ministry's guidelines.
According to the outline approved by the ministers, once the one-week trial period is over, the officials will weigh in on how and when to fully reopen the shopping centers based on "the pilot findings and the general infection situation".
"It was decided to adopt the proposal for a limited experimental opening of malls and to possibly extend the pilot so that it ends on December 6."
It is expected the pilot will take effect this week, although no final opening date was officially provided. Finance Minister Israel Katz tweeted he expects the pilot to be launched within two days.
This will give the malls participating in the pilot a chance to reopen on 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.
Additionally, only nine out of the 15 malls have thus far been confirmed as official participants. The malls include: The Kryon Mall in Kiryat Bialik, the Petah Tikva Mall, the Grand Canyon Mall in Be'er Sheva, Ayalon Mall in Ramat Gan, the Modi'in Mall, and the G’ malls in Kfar Saba, Yokneam, Rishon Lezion and Haifa.
The identity of the other six malls is still unknown and will be determined by the Finance Ministry, depending on which shopping centers will be interested and capable of participating in the pilot. Also, it is still unclear by what criteria the ministry will pick the six additional participants.
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 meter 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.
The malls' representatives said that it was not yet clear when the malls would open and that they were waiting for the regulations to be passed over to them in order to get a clearer picture on the situation.