Israel’s National Security Council has reportedly finalized a plan to slowly lift stay-at-home restrictions.
The National Security Council of Israel has worked and developed a 4-step plan to get the economy back on track and lift the general closure imposed by the government to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to lift restrictions as soon as Thursday of this week, a plan to get the economy back on track in four main phases has emerged. Certain businesses deemed important contributors to productivity and employment will get back to work as soon as possible, and every two weeks, authorities will review whether the next phase can proceed, and so on. All of the public health guidelines we’ve been subject to these past few days (staying at home, sneezing into the elbow, social distancing, use of face masks, etc.) will still be required by the general public during the reopening of businesses.
Phases of the Israel plan
Phase 1, Haaretz reports, consists on resuming activity in sectors like tech and finance, as well as parts of the import and export industries, as officials estimate that in those sectors, which employ more than ten percent of the population, it would be easier to control workplace conditions and enforce compliance of stringent rules on hygiene, social distancing and the wearing of face masks. Public transportation and partial activity of the education system will resume with special education and preschools first. The council is considering allowing high schools teachers to prepare small groups of students for their matriculation exams.
Phase 2 will entail resuming commerce and opening retail stores, excluding large shopping centers. In addition, children aged 6-10 will return to elementary schools.
Phase 3 includes reopening cafes, restaurants and hotels – as long as they meet new hygiene and social distancing requirements. Most of the education system will return to activity at this stage, except for high-risk populations. Schools will also be required to adapt to strict hygiene and social distancing demands, and large gatherings or crowded events will be prohibited.
Phase 4: Leisure and entertainment industries will go back to operation, including culture, sports, and large shopping malls. The government will only carry out the fourth phase when the pandemic is “under full control” and in line with how the rest of the world manages to curb the spread of the virus. People over 60 and at-risk populations will not resume normal activity throughout the four phases.
Another foreseen challenge is explaining to the public that resuming activity does not mean going back to normal and that people must continue to exercise a cautious routine, Haaretz continues to report. “It must be clear that this is what 2020 is going to look like,” a source familiar with the plan said. The rationale behind the plan led by the Finance Ministry is to get certain businesses deemed important contributors to productivity and employment back to work as soon as possible — the financial sector, tech and service sectors, including accountants and lawyers — while holding back on those that entail the highest health risks, such as closed shopping malls and markets and the hotel industry, and those that have a low impact on economic growth, such as hairdressers and sports and entertainment venues, per The Israel Times.