Later on, the country began opening aggressively. Wedding halls were allowed to host events with 250 people. Yeshivas and synagogues were opened up. Funerals were opened to 250. Bars, pubs and restaurants around the country were opened and carried on as if there was no pandemic. Even high schools across the country were holding proms and graduations as live in-person events instead of on zoom.
Granted there was significant economic pressure to open things up and allow people to earn a living. But the government opened up too many things, too quickly.
Now, here we are in early July. Israel's numbers have gone from less than 20 new cases a day in early June to more than 1,200 new cases a day over the past few days. Throughout that growth period, the bars, wedding halls, yeshivot and synagogues remained open along with so many other places. All of a sudden - Netanyahu - who had looked like he was navigating difficult and uncharted waters properly - now looked like he was captaining a boat that had sprung several bad leaks.
So he called together his "Corona cabinet" to make some new and urgent decisions about what to close. Buses will be limited to 20 passengers with no air conditioning (because the AC might spread the virus). Restaurants will be allowed to have 20 people inside and 30 people outside but wedding and banquet halls will be shut down completely. Yeshivas will remain open - and so will the beach....
Frankly, it sounds like the government has no idea what to do - and is facing pressure from several sectors of society which are trying to promote their own interests. We know that more than 100 students from a Yeshiva in B'nai Brak were recently diagnosed with Covid-19 - yet the Yeshivas will be able to remain open.
Wedding halls, whose owners and operators have struggled so dramatically over the past two months - will be required to close. They won't even be able to run functions for 50 people. But beaches will stay open. I guess you can have a wedding on the beach....It is hard to find any logic in this.
Here in Ra'anana, there were several high school proms and graduations. Few if any participants, including teachers, principals and students, wore masks or observed physical distancing. Not surprisingly, several students at various high schools in Ra'anana have now been diagnosed as positive with Covid-19 and high school students across the city have received messages telling them that they are now required to go into mandatory isolation.
The difficulty is that the Israeli public is becoming more and more cynical about the restrictions imposed - especially given the lack of any cohesive logic. This is a government that previously opened up huge Ikea stores early on after the widespread close - even while shopping malls across the country remained closed because the then minister of health was a buddy of the owners of the Ikea Israel franchise rights.
So now it is unclear whether the Israeli public will be willing to follow these new restrictions and whether they will work. If they do not, Israel will have no choice but to impose another full closure within the coming weeks. That will be disappointing, but the country will continue to everything it can to try and avoid what is taking place in some of the harder hit countries.