Israel Eases Coronavirus Rules: It’s Back to the Malls and Visits With Grandkids (But No Hugs)


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Sabas and savtas can visit the grandkids and Aroma can start brewing anew.

In a nationally televised address Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in Israel. The new rules permit visits by first-degree relatives – without hugs — and cancel the restriction on movement beyond the immediate vicinity of one’s home. This means that grandchildren and their grandparents to get together for the first time in weeks.

Malls, markets and gyms can open beginning Thursday, and gatherings of up to 20 people may be held in open spaces, though with masks and the appropriate social distancing. By May 17, outdoor weddings can have 50 guests.

Kindergartens, preschools and day care centers will open on May 10. Schoolchildren in grades 1-3 and 11-12 began returning to their classrooms on Sunday.

The government plans to lift all restrictions on gatherings by the middle of June, which will allow the opening of sports arenas, theaters, hotels and restaurants.

Netanyahu said the relaxation of the restrictions will be reassessed if there are 100 new coronavirus cases a day, a doubling of cases within 10 days or at least 250 serious cases in hospitals.

Israel has seen 16,246 coronavirus cases and 235 deaths. Some 10,064 COVID-19 patients have recovered. Several hospitals have been able to close their coronavirus units in recent days.