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Rebellion as lockdown lifts — some schools reopen and many businesses left behind

Israel’s five-week lockdown ended on Sunday morning with a gradual lifting of restrictions around the country — and some rebellion by business owners who are still not able to reopen their stores. 

Schools opened on Thursday and, even after getting permission to return to the classrooms, only kindergartens and grades 1-4 and 11-12 were allowed back in some cities. With a “traffic light” plan in place, schools in some municipalities stayed closed due to high infections in those areas.

Several shopping malls opened up this week as well against regulations after being closed for well over a month, some making up their own rules, allowing in people 60 and up who could prove they received both doses of the vaccine for and for those under 60 who received one shot. Police were dispatched to order them to close.

The rebellion was partially in response to the lack of police enforcement at the funerals of two ultra-Orthodox rabbis in the past few weeks that drew tens of thousands of mourners to Jerusalem against regulations. 

“After hearing the prime minister demand aggressively enforcing [the lockdown on] only us, and after turning a blind eye to funerals and mass weddings in other sectors, we see that the government has decided to continue to discriminate against us,” a forum that represents more that 400 mall owners, chain stores, small businesses, restaurants, tourism, hotel and entertainment industries. “We will not allow the prime minister to sentence to death hundreds of thousands of ailing businesses.”

In Carmiel, Mayor Moshe Kuninsky, announced that he will allow businesses whose employees have been vaccinated to reopen.

In addition, the airport closure was extended until Feb. 21 leaving Israelis stranded abroad even longer.

Meanwhile Israel is pushing ahead with its vaccination campaign and both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein have declared war on citizens who aren’t rushing to get the shot.

“Now those who do not vaccinate could cause the collapse of the health system,” Netanyahu said.

Edelstein has plans to sanction anyone who does not get inoculated.

“He who doesn’t vaccinate will hang out in the supermarket and the pharmacy while the vaccinated attend stadiums and gyms,” the health minister said according to a recording obtained by Channel 12.

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