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. 


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)

10:08 A.M. Israeli Interior Minister meets Arab representatives ahead of Holy month of Ramadan

Interior Minister Arye Dery has met representatives from Israel's Arab community to discuss ways to manage the upcoming holy month of Ramadan in ways that limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The holy month will begin on the evening of April 23 and normally entails large gatherings of people in mosques and houses. Dery emphasized the need for more effective enforcement of Health Ministry regulations in Arab communities and suggested moving those ill with the coronavirus to facilities run by Israel’s Home Front Command.

“We should strive to remove as many patients as possible to protect families and surroundings,” Dery said at the meeting, which also included Knesset members and Interior Ministry officials.

“We are at the eve of Ramadan, a month when it is crucial to apply regulations more vigorously,” he concluded.(Jack Khoury)

10:08 A.M. Israel's confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 579 in Israel’s Arab community