Israel continues its rapid de-escalation with the reopening of bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels to the public today, seeking to resume their pre-pandemic activity after being closed to the public for almost three months.
Once the worst phase of the coronavirus is over, which left many locals shut down, this step is also an oxygen balloon for the services sector, key in the country's economy.
In Jerusalem, the central streets of the west of the city recovered the characteristic life that many missed: the locals were not overflowing but, on a hot day, the weather also accompanied so that many took the opportunity to sit back on their terraces. have a beer with friends or taste a plate.
Most cafes and restaurants were open, some even with balloons or special decorations to celebrate the moment.
During the last months, some locals continued working serving home delivery or take away orders, but their activity and income were reduced to a minimum as they were unable to receive their parishioners.
"I am very happy that we can open, although we do not know what will happen. We will see how it goes this weekend," remarked Efe Dor Sircovich, owner of the popular Café Bolinat, who says that many people have called in recent days to reserve tables , but is cautious, waiting to see how the situation evolves, and does not rule out closing if the number of clients is small.
One of Sircovich's main concerns is the absence of tourists, who usually represent 50% of its clientele and who, with Israel's borders closed and without a specific date to reopen, currently leave a gap that is difficult to fill.
In many places, the atmosphere was almost absolute normality, but businesses are obliged to maintain strict rules to prevent contagion: physical distance or wearing a mask are some of them, but, as Efe found, many people sitting between tables did not comply. these basic requirements.
In restaurant kitchens, workers were actually wearing a mask, but the same was not always the case with waiters. In some cases, they took the temperature to prevent anyone with a fever from entering the premises, but in most cases this was not the case.
Israel has recorded 281 deaths from the coronavirus, and currently has just over 2,000 active cases of the disease, after the vast majority of the nearly 17,000 infected have recovered.
Likewise, the economic consequences of the pandemic have been felt, and many merchants have not been able to reopen their stores or resume their jobs, with unemployment figures that went from less than 4% last February to almost 25% today, an issue which is among the main concerns of the newly formed government.
In the neighboring occupied territory of the West Bank, with two dead and some 400 infected, cafes and restaurants are also reopening today, in a further step towards a return to normality.