Hi-tech and Preschools First, Malls and Sports Last: Israel’s Coronavirus Exit Strategy

Israel's National Security Council has finalized its recommendation for the lifting of the coronavirus closure based on the guiding principle that lucrative industries will be first to resume economic activity while recreation, sports and tourism will be last. The strategy, formulated by government offices, think tanks and academics, will be brought before the Knesset for approval in the coming week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to lift restrictions as soon as Thursday of this week, although the exact date has yet to be announced. A main concern is that the public will fail to cooperate with a re-imposition of restrictions if infection rates surge as the exit plan is implemented. 

The plan, which was formulated based on more than ten alternative programs, suggests that restrictions be lifted in four main phases, with a two-week gap between each phase to allow a situation assessment.

Phase 1

The first sector to resume activity will be tech and finance, as well as parts of the import and export industries. Officials estimate that in those sectors, which employ more than ten percent of the population, it would be easier to control workplace conditions and enforce compliance of stringent rules on hygiene, social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

Public transportation will also expand in the first phase, as well as partial activity of the education system. Special education and preschools will be the first to resume operation. In addition, the council is considering allowing high schools teachers to prepare small groups of students for their matriculation exams.

Public offices assisting the aforementioned sectors may also return to work, meaning that the public sector's activity will expand to 50 percent in the first phase of the exit plan.