People in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem after it reopened according to the new government orders, May 7, 2020. 

Israel’s malls and outdoor markets reopened on Thursday morning, much to the delight of retailers and shoppers alike.

Considered potential “hotspots” for the spread of COVID-19, such sites were among the last to be permitted by the government to resume operations. In view of the steady decline in the country’s COVID-19 infection rate and the number of patients on ventilators — as well as mounting pressure on the part of the public and angry demonstrations by shop-owners — the indoor establishments and open-air stands were finally given the green light to reopen for business.

On a visit to the capital’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, monitored to prevent more than 650 people at a time from entering, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon said, “We must say two prayers: ‘Shehechianu’ [the Jewish blessing of gratitude to God recited on special occasions] and ‘Baruch rofeh cholim [a blessing said upon recovering from an illness]. After all, we have endured a relatively long period [of closures]. On the other hand, we have gone through, and are still going through, a pandemic the likes of which our current generations have never experienced. [And] we had to prevent a continued rise in mortality.”

As of Thursday morning there were 5,370 Israelis still diagnosed with COVID-19, and the country’s death toll from the disease had reached 239. JN

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