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Israel’s Shutdown Eased Despite Continued Virus Spread

Israelis on Sunday were beside themselves with joy, after being allowed to leave their homes for a distance of over a thousand meters for the first time in several long weeks. The first baby steps in rolling back the government-imposed nationwide lockdown kicked in Sunday, as citizens also were permitted to go to work in certain businesses, visit other people’s houses and, starting Tuesday, send their children to schools in a handful of towns, though only some grades. On Friday, after an unprecedentedly rowdy Cabinet meeting, which included harsh accusations and personal attacks by Israel’s prime minister and his alternate, the government agreed to ease some of the measures enforced over two months ago, aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus. Health officials have warned that despite the seemingly endless closure, and despite the massive vaccination effort – recently inoculating nearly a quarter of the nation, serious cases, daily deaths and new infections have not substantially subsided.