פקקים בנתיבי איילון
Traffic on Ayalon Highway
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Be'er Sheva Market

Heavy traffic and long lines: Israel 'back to normal' after two years of pandemic

Crowded streets, stores, and airport gate lines are first signs of declining panic among Israelis when it comes to COVID-19; although many sectors of economy are back to routine, many more still haven't recovered from lockdowns

Roee Robinstein, Meir Turjeman, Einav Halabi, Lior El-Hi, Gad Lior, Iris Lifshitz-Kliger, Uzi Ezion |
Published: 02.20.22, 23:28
Government's decision to dramatically roll back the Green Pass regulations and ease traveling restrictions, parallel to the consistent decline in daily COVID cases, point to Israel's determination to get back to life we've all known before the onset of the pandemic two years ago.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Aside from the burden the health care systems had to endure during all the infection waves, the world economy sustained a tremendous damage. The Israel market hadn't seen this level of economic detriment even in wars or intifadas.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    שוק באר שבע
    שוק באר שבע
    Be'er Sheva Market
    (Photo: Herzel Yosef)
    The numbers speak for themselves: about 1.5 million employees were furloughed or fired in the first lockdown, tens of thousands of businesses were closed, a flourishing tourist industry shut down within weeks, and hundreds of thousands of families plunged into financial crises.
    The first branch to show signs of recovery from the pandemic were the roads. Despite record-high gas prices, people are back on the roads and traffic is all but "back to normal".
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    פקקים בנתיבי איילון
    פקקים בנתיבי איילון
    Traffic on Ayalon Highway
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    The next to indicate recovery is the credit activity in the market. Israelis are shopping more, tax income is on the rise, and the lines in the Ben Gurion Airport are back to their regular lengths.
    Initial analyses claimed that those most significantly impacted by the pandemic were those whose work requires up-close contact, such as hairdressers, cosmeticians, gyms, cafes and restaurants, shows, movies and plays, and even dentists.
    On the contrary, retail stores selling clothes, shoes, electronics, and furniture had it relatively easy. Sport stadiums, nature reserves, and hotels also hardly faced financial downturns during the Omicron wave.
    "We can already see a 50% increase in reservations for travel abroad," say Ilan Shalev, marketing VP of the "Daka-90" travel agency.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    טיסות יוצאות לאוקראינה
    טיסות יוצאות לאוקראינה
    Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    "As opposed to what we saw in the last year, current bookings are showing more family vacations, which took up way less of the consumer audience because of health regulations. This makes every booking of two passengers go up to anywhere between five to ten passengers."
    Shalev predicted that further ease of regulations expected in March, which would see quarantines scrapped for non-vaccinated children as well as coronavirus tests required upon entry to Israel, will lead to thousands of Israelis going abroad for Passover.
    "By looking at the roads we can say that we've almost gone back to normal routines," says Oren Kabertzman from Tel Aviv. "We're back to the days where it takes half an hour to get home from work in the city, like it did before COVID. I'm encouraged by the declining number of cases but there are still some in my close circles. I believe it'll be behind us in about two weeks".
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    חזרה לשגרה בקניון מלחה בירושלים
    חזרה לשגרה בקניון מלחה בירושלים
    Malha Mall, Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoiski)
    Country's malls are a prime exhibit of the return of normal life. Clothing stores are again filled with shoppers and food courts are packed to the brim.
    "The traffic is back, the malls are packed, everything is back on track," says Yoel Gavi from Rosh HaAyin. "It's time we cancel the Green Pass. I put on a mask, but only to avoid a fine."
    Shoppers all over Israel are expressing excitement. "I've missed shopping, happily spending money," says Iris Levi with her hands full of shopping bags and a smile on her face. "Let's go back to our routines, I've waited so long for this."

    Talkbacks for this article 0