Israel eases coronavirus restrictions – PM Netanyahu holds video conference with world leaders

The Israeli government on Friday morning passed new measures to ease the coronavirus restrictions. Starting Saturday night, small stores, hairdressers and beauty salons will be able to reopen. Restaurants and cafes will be able to offer takeaway services.

Shopping malls, gyms, restaurants and cafes that don’t offer delivery services will remain closed.

Business owners will be required to maintain health ministry directives, set up barriers between customers and sales staff, a two-meter distance between people, make sure to disinfect surfaces, require employees to wear gloves and masks and prevent crowding at the entrance of their stores.

PM Netanyahu held a video conference on Friday with the leaders of Denmark, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Greece and the Czech Republic, to discuss their strategies for lifting coronavirus restrictions.

Attending the video conference were Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz thanked Netanyahu at the start of the meeting, saying “I want to thank Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the fact that at the beginning of the virus’ outbreak, we spoke on the phone and told me, ‘You need to do more.’  It was a wake-up call for me to make tougher decisions on total closures.”

“Thanks to this decision, we have dropped to fewer than 100 new infections a day,” Kurz said.

The number of coronavirus infections in Israel has risen to 14,882 as of Friday morning, with 193 fatalities and 139 people in serious condition, including 107 patients on ventilators.

The number of Israelis who have recovered from the virus now stands at 5,685. The number of recoveries has now exceeded the number of new diagnoses for the ninth day in a row.