Israel Eases Coronavirus Restrictions on Group Prayer and Shop Opening

As the highly contagious coronavirus spreads around the world, Israel and the Palestinians struggle to contain a local outbreak that has virtually halted daily life and led to tens of thousands of people entering quarantine.

■ 13,361 Israelis have so far tested positive for the coronavirus; 171 people have died. In the West Bank, 307 cases have been diagnosed so far. Two have died. In Gaza, 13 cases have been diagnosed. Coronavirus world tracker: Live statistics of cases and deaths

■ The Israeli government approved a series of steps to ease the lockdown restrictions, including allowing group prayer, partial reopening of the economy and certain stores, and fines for not wearing masks in public. Read the full guidelines 

■ The government has approved a partial lockdown on the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, a coronavirus hotspot, as well as a curfew on Jerusalem neighborhoods with a high infection rate. 


12:43 P.M. Top Health Ministry official rules out sports tournaments in next six months

Health Ministry Deputy Director General Prof. Itamar Grotto said that his “Personal stance is that sports tournaments should be banned for at least six months,” as Israel battles to contain the coronavirus.

Grotto spoke before the Knesset coronavirus committee in charge of monitoring the coronavirus crisis, which discussed Sunday ways to rehabilitate Israeli sports. After sparking harsh criticism, Grotto restricted his comments to contact sports.

Ofer Shelah, chairman of the Knesset coronavirus committee, opposed the move, saying: “These measures are too extreme and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the mental and physical damages caused by the lack of physical activity.” (Itamar Katzir)

11:40 29-year-old woman with underlying condition dies of coronavirus

A 29-year-old woman who suffered from a terminal illness passed away after contracting the coronavirus, Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Karem said in a statement.(Aaron Rabinowitz)  

11:23 A.M. Six more cases diagnosed in West Bank

A woman who lives near Ramallah and five of her family members tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. This raises the total number of cases in the Palestinian Authority to 307. (Jack Khoury)