Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israelis on the beach

The Israeli government on Tuesday night eased several guidelines regarding the coronavirus emergency, which came into effect Wednesday morning. The decisions were made in a phone poll among the newly appointed ministers, and include synagogues, schools, museums, public transportation and, of course, the beaches, where on Wednesday morning the Mediterranean is reported to be calm and warm like a giant heated pool.

Synagogues are open to public prayers Wednesday morning, with some restrictions: Only 50 participants will be able to congregate in each synagogue, while maintaining a distance of 2 meters between them, wearing face masks and following hygiene rules – frequent hand washing as well as using alcoholic gel. Each synagogue must appoint a coronavirus trustee who will be responsible for observing the above rules, as well as record the names of minyan participants and take their temperature.

Jewish men attend morning prayer while keeping distance from one another at a synagogue in Efrat, Gush Etzion, March 16, 2020. / Gershon Elinson/Flash90

Incoming Education Minister Yoav Galant (Likud) announced Tuesday night that educational institutions will open at 7:30 AM Wednesday. Earlier, incoming Health Minister Yuli Edelstein instructed his CEO Moshe Bar Siman Tov to sign an order permitting students to remove their face masks in the classrooms without air-conditioning and in the public space because of the severe heat wave which makes breathing with a mask difficult, as long as students avoid gathering in large and dense groups. The order is in effect through Friday.

As expected, the government has abolished the beach ban, and on Wednesday, 136 beaches have been opened to the public across the country, subject to the “purple tag” rules, which include a distance of 2 meters, a face mask and not more than 6 people sitting together.

The Tel Aviv municipality announced that of city’s 13 beaches, only 10 will open Wednesday because it didn’t have the money to prepare the remaining three, because people weren’t paying their real estate taxes, because they were out of work. Over the past week, the beaches in Tel Aviv have been cleaned up, the facilities disinfected, under the slogan “Blue Sea – Purple Tags.” Prominent signage and information posters guide bathers as to where it is safe to slouch on the white sand and where it isn’t.

The Susiya Synagogue reconstructed in the Israel Museum. / Photo by Stephen

The country’s museums have been given permission to return to full operation, although without exhibits that include being touched by visitors, especially children. The museums will operate in accordance with the purple tag rules, including a limit of no more than one visitor per 15 square meters (160 sq. ft.).

Starting Wednesday morning, public transport is on during peak hours without a limit on the number of passengers (because, as everyone knows, the coronavirus hates buses and trains – DI joking, please don’t send emails). Public transport will operate from 7:00 to 8:30 AM and 1:00 to 3:00 PM, to allow students to go to school and then go home.

As of Wednesday, May 27 (48th day of the Omer, practically the eve of Shavuot), restaurants, bars, after hour clubs, swimming pools, hotels, workshops, youth movement meetings and informal education classes will be open. Restaurants will be required to allow distance between diners. Restaurants licensed for up to 100 guests will operate without limits on the number of diners. Restaurants licensed to accommodate more than 100 guests will operate at 85% of occupancy.

This thing is almost over, people – unless, like yours truly, you’re sitting in a corner now, waiting for the dreaded second wave.

Stay tuned.


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