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