In Brief: Israel continues to unlock as virus rate falls to lowest level since June


Israel is to reopen some of its schools, as well as some businesses, such as hairdressers, that receive customers as the country continues to ease its covid-19 restrictions. Facing a surge in coronavirus cases, the Jewish state last month became the first country in the world to impose a second national lockdown. The Health Ministry announced this morning that the number of positive covid tests had dropped to 2.1 percent – the lowest level recorded since late June. Nearly 800 new cases were diagnosed in the previous 24 hours as the number of Israelis contracting the virus continues to drop. However, 12 deaths overnight brought the number of fatalities in the country to 2,452.

On Monday, the “coronavirus cabinet” agreed to reopen schools for grades 1-4 on Sunday. Younger children will be divided into two groups and only attend classes two days a week, while the older returning children will be split into “pods” and will resume studies five days a week. Children in the fifth grade and above will continue remote learning. A rush to reopen schools as the first lockdown was eased in May – and the return to classes in September – are thought to have contributed to Israel’s second wave and lockdown. Businesses which receive customers – like beauty salons – will also reopen on Sunday, but can only see only client at a time. However, health minister Yuli Edelstein is reported to have told the cabinet: “I won’t support opening commerce. We’re playing with fire here.”
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