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Cabinet Approves Emergency Regulations on an Additional Easing of Restrictions Designed to Gradually Restore the Israeli Economy to a Careful Routine in the Shadow of the Coronavirus

(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Office, the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministry)

The Cabinet  approved  (Friday, 24 April 2020),  emergency regulations to further ease restrictions in order to gradually restore the Israeli economy to a careful routine in the shadow of the coronavirus. The regulations will take effect at midnight tomorrow (between Saturday, 25 April 2020, and Sunday, 26 April 2020).

The regulations are valid until Sunday, 3 May 2020. Measures to further ease restrictions after this date will be evaluated as per the continued decline in morbidity.

A) Emergency Regulations (Restriction of Activity – Amendment)

The regulations permit the sale of food by restaurants for take-away (no seating); the opening of hair salons, beauty parlors and cosmeticians including laser hair removal; and the opening of stores in the public sphere except for enclosed malls. It was also agreed that care providers may work with individuals, or with people living in the same household, without contact, while maintaining a distance of two meters among those being cared for, and wearing masks and using disinfectants.

Activity of the foregoing businesses will be subject to the conditions about maintaining public health, as determined in the regulations.

It was also determined at the meeting that the wearing of masks shall be mandatory also in the public sphere, starting from age seven, except for those engaged in sport or anyone who has a medical reason and certification to this effect. Fines shall be levied for violating the requirement to wear masks from the first offense.

It was also decided that local authority inspectors will carry out significant enforcement and monitoring so that businesses meet these conditions given concerns of a sharp increase in the number of verified cases, expansion of the chain of infection and new waves of outbreak of the coronavirus in Israel.

The detailed regulations are as follows:

1. In addition to deliveries, food outlets may offer take-away service.

The required rules for maintaining public health at restaurants are as follows: No seating at the food outlet. There will be a partition at the counter to prevent the transfer of droplets between seller and customer. Employers will schedule groups of workers in permanent shifts. Two meters' distance will be maintained among those present. The rules of hygiene, including the disinfection of surfaces, will be strictly maintained. Restaurant employees will wear masks and gloves. Entry will be regulated so that no more than two customers per active cash register will be present in a store of over 100 square meters; no more than four customers will be at any cash register. A sign will be posted regarding the maintaining of distance between people and the number of customers permitted in the food outlet.

2. All stores in the public sphere will be permitted to open except for malls, which shall remain closed.

The opening of stores will be conditional on strict maintenance of the following rules: Before opening the store, business/store owners will submit to their local authority a signed declaration according to which the detailed conditions will be met. The owner or operator of the store will – to the extent possible – provide for taking the temperature of people entering the store and will question them regarding symptoms of illness. The owner will schedule groups of workers in separate shifts. An employee responsible for coronavirus matters will be appointed. Partitions to prevent the transfer of droplets between sellers and customers shall be installed. The operator of the place will see to it that the rules of hygiene, including the disinfection of surfaces, are strictly maintained. A distance of at least two meters between people in the store shall be maintained. Care will be taken to prevent people from congregating at the entrance to the sore. Places for customers to stand in line at cash registers shall be delineated in order to maintain the distance between people; a sign to this effect shall be prominently posted. Entry to the store will be regulated so that no more than two customers per active cash register will be present; in a store of over 100 square meters, no more than four customers will be at any cash register. A sign will be posted regarding the maintaining of distance between people and the number of permitted customers. The operator of the place will determine and operate a system to limit [the number of] people entering the store.

3. Hair salons, beauty parlors and cosmeticians shall be permitted to open.

Hair salons will work according to the following rules: Business owners will submit to their local authority a declaration that the conditions are being met. The owner of the business will – to the extent possible – provide for taking the temperature of people entering the business and will question them regarding symptoms of illness. The owner will schedule groups of workers in separate shifts. The rules of hygiene – including, the disinfection of surfaces, tools, the chair and the laundering of towels and smocks, between customers – will be strictly maintained. During treatment of customers, hair salon employees will wear gloves that will be changed between customers. Masks and faceguards will be worn in addition to eyeguards. A distance of two meters will be maintained between people in the salon; a sign will to this effect shall be posted. The entry of customers to the salon will be regulated so that no more than two customers per hairdresser will be in the salon at any time. No more than four customers overall shall be in the salon at any time, six customers in salons over 75 square meters, and eight customers in salons of over 100 square meters. A sign will be prominently posted regarding he aforesaid numbers. A system will be determined to limit [the number of] people entering the salon.

4. Enforcement of the directives shall be stepped up.

In order to strictly maintain the rules set forth in the regulations and maintain public health, enforcement will be stepped up so that inspectors who have been duly authorized by the Director of the Nature and Parks Authority shall be added to the list of authorized personnel. Inspectors in local authorities shall be authorized to enforce the rules set forth in the regulations including enforcement in stores that store owners not allow in any person not wearing a mask.

Businesses that violate the rules shall be subject to a NIS 2,000 fine.

The Health Ministry calls on the public to continue maintaining the directives and instructions set forth in the regulations. The partnership of the public will allow the continuation of routine in the shadow of the coronavirus.

B) The Cabinet approved the NIS 8 billion extended assistance plan for the self-employed and small businesses:

1. Grant for regular expenses for small businesses – NIS 5.2 billion

A designated grant for small businesses (turnover of NIS 20 million), the sales turnover of which has been significantly hurt in March-April as a result of the economic effects of the spread of the coronavirus, in order to assist in covering regular expenses. The grant will also be given to non-profit associations that are defined as eligible public institutions. The grant may be up to NIS 400,000 depending on the degree to which activity has declined. The grant will be paid by the Tax Authority beginning in May.

2. Designated assistance stipend for the self-employed – NIS 2.8 billion

In continuation of the first installment, which was paid in April, a designated assistance grant will be paid to the self-employed the scope of whose activity has declined by at least 25% in March-June. The grant, which will be paid directly to bank accounts, will be 70% of their average regular income, up to NIS 10,500. This group also includes wage-earners with controlling interests. It will be possible to apply for the grant via the Tax Authority starting in the first week of May.

C) Readiness of the Public Sector for Work on an Emergency Footing during the Coronavirus Crisis (Amendment)

Due to the extension of the validity of restrictions on the economy as a whole and in order to increase the scope of service to the public while maintaining the health of workers, the Cabinet has instructed the public sector to prepare for the application of the purple badge standard. Agencies at government ministries and in the public sector will evaluate the preparation of work spaces in accordance with the health directives in order to allow more employees to go to their places of work.

D) The Cabinet approved a detailed assistance plan for the economy in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

As determined in the basic law, yesterday evening the Finance Minister submitted to the Cabinet a detailed plan on assistance expenditures to the economy in 2020. It is anticipated that expenditures due to the coronavirus in 2020 will amount to over NIS 50 billion. The overall economic plan amounts to NIS 80 billion. It will be recalled that the economic assistance plan includes four layers: Immediate response (health and civil), a social safety net, assistance for the continuation of businesses, and acceleration. The portion that was approved includes components from all four layers.

The plan includes – inter alia – approximately NIS 10 billion to the Health Ministry, approximately NIS 3.8 billion to the self-employed, NIS 2.3 billion for Passover grants, NIS 2.5 billion for credit solutions, NIS 2.6 billion for property tax discounts for businesses and NIS 0.2 billion for improving service to citizens via digitization.

Following approval by the Cabinet, the plan will be tabled in the Knesset. Changes in the plan greater than 15% will be subject to approval by the Knesset Finance Committee.

E) The Cabinet approved the Finance Ministry proposal to continue providing adjustment stipends to people 67 and over who have lost jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Pursuant to the foregoing, it was decided to approve an additional stipend for May of up to NIS 4,000 for those who have been dismissed in previous months.