Israel Begins Easing Second Pandemic Lockdown
People in Israel are no longer confined to within half a mile of home, the government on Sunday having begun easing the terms of a pandemic lockdown put in place exactly a month ago due to a surge in infections. With new cases on the decline, pre-schools and lower grade-levels in elementary schools reopened, as did businesses not requiring face-to-face contact with customers. Restaurants were also allowed to extend their service from delivery-only to takeaway. In addition, large prayer venues such as the Western Wall, the Haram al-Sharif and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City were reopened to limited numbers of worshipers. The relaxation will remain in force for as long as new infections do not top 2,000 for a 24-hour period. When the lockdown went into effect, there were upwards of 8,000 new infections being reported each day. Health officials plan to institute further relaxations when new infections drop to 1,000 per day. The country is also moving to a system of local lockdowns, meaning that only those cities, towns or neighborhoods with high infection rates will be affected, rather than the entire country.