Coronavirus — Knesset Votes to Keep Pools, Beaches Open

  • On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet had decided to close all these spaces.
  • However, after the vote on Monday, the Knesset pressed for the measure to be reversed.
  • Several experts have warned that the virus is out of control and have warned of a high number of deaths if severe restrictions are not applied immediately.

The Knesset’s coronavirus committee voted on Monday to keep swimming pools and beaches open during weekends. The move was approved despite the second wave of coronavirus that recently hit the country. Authorities continue to evaluate different measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The first case of COVID-19 in Israel was confirmed on 21 February 2020, when a female citizen tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 at the Sheba Medical Center after return from quarantine on the Diamond Princess ship in Japan. As of July 21, there have been 53,559 recorded cases, resulting in 424 deaths.

They are also balancing those containment measures in such a way that does not completely hamper the country’s economic activity. On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet had decided to close all these spaces. However, after the vote on Monday, the Knesset pressed for the measure to be reversed.

“The decision not to close public pools and beaches is right and justified,” MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud), who heads the coronavirus committee said. “Beaches and swimming pools are vital. We all are working together to fight the virus,” she said. “For all of us, economic, mental and physical health are extremely important.”

During Monday’s session, they also discussed what to do with restaurants, cafes, gyms, and other public places, without the legislature and executive yet reaching an agreement. The committee urged authorities to reverse their decision to close restaurants starting Tuesday, noting that they can operate at a capacity of 35% indoors while maintaining the recommended social distance.

According to the Times of Israel, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein will present a plan that will allow restaurants to host up to 50 diners outdoors. However, their presence inside would be prohibited. The discussion was scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

MK Makhlouf “Miki” Zohar, Likud’s coalition whip, said that 80% of the country’s restaurants could open under those restrictions. With the possible closure of restaurants and cafes, many local owners announced that they plan to challenge the authorities’ decision and keep their establishments open.

Likud (The Consolidation), officially the Likud-National Liberal Movement, is a center-right to right-wing political party in Israel. A secular party, it was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon in an alliance with several right-wing parties. Likud’s landslide victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country’s political history, marking the first time the left had lost power.

The committee also asked that the gyms, which have been closed since last Friday, be allowed to continue operating under strict distancing measures. Voting on the proposals is scheduled for Wednesday.

In the case of gyms, Zohar said there were indications that closed, air-conditioned rooms “have a serious problem regarding infection. If it is a closed place with open windows and without air-conditioning, it is less dangerous.” Workers from different sectors demonstrated yesterday in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, demanding greater financial support to face the crisis.

Israel reached 50,035 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic, almost 30,000 of them are still active, in a strong second wave of COVID-19 that has forced the government to apply new restrictions. The death toll, meanwhile, rose to 409, including 25 in the past three days.

During the past week, more than 2,000 daily new infections were recorded on several occasions. The Ministry of Health anticipated that these figures would force a total closure to be imposed. For their part, several experts have warned that the virus is out of control and have warned of a high number of deaths if severe restrictions are not applied immediately.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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