In Brief: Israel reopens bars, restaurants and tourist attractions

Israel continued to move out of its tight lockdown this week as bars, restaurants and tourist attractions were given the green light to reopen on Wednesday. Social distance and hygiene rules will be strictly enforced and customers are being told they must wear masks, except when they’re eating. However, smaller facilities will be allowed to operate at normal capacity, with venues which normally allow more than 100 people to enter must work at 85 percent of capacity. Informal education including after-school activities, youth groups and classes were also allowed to resume on Wednesday, while the number of people permitted to travel in private cars and taxis was also increased.

The government has also come to an agreement with teaching unions to extend the secondary school academic year from 30 June to 13 July. Government-run day camps will also be extended into August to allow parents to return to work.

As of Thursday, 16,793 people in Israel had tested positive for the coronavirus and 281 people have died. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 554 people have tested positive; two people have died. In the Gaza Strip, 61 people were diagnosed, 18 of whom recovered, and one person has died. The gradual loosening of restrictions does appear to have produced a slight uptick in cases in Israel, however. The total number of cases reported on Wednesday night represented a rise of 36 new cases in a day, the biggest daily rise since 8 May, when 55 new cases were discovered. Read full article