Shopping malls and markets across Israel, shut due to the coronavirus outbreak, will only be allowed to reopen after the development of a tracking system that would monitor all visitors, Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov said at a Monday meeting.
All customers will be required to install a tracking app on their phone to enter shopping malls and markets, once these reopen. The app, which according to Bar Siman Tov is already in stages of development, will be part of a control system that would allow authorities to keep a tab on the number of visitors at any given moment.
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The app would let authorities track the locations visited by confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients, allowing rapidly conduct contact tracing. It remains unclear whether shopping mall managers would have any access to the data collected by the app and whether the applications will continue to monitor people after they leave the mall. Moreover, app development responsibilities will be placed on mall managers, but it is uncertain who will oversee them.
Speaking at a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and representatives on behalf of Israel’s National Security Council and market vendor associations, Bar Siman Tov explained that customers would be asked to scan a code before entering a market or mall, which would let the app track where they are going.
The app “will know who has been to the market, which route they took and who was near them, so that if there had been an infection in the market, we can tell who was there and put these people into quarantine without having to put a large group into quarantine,” Bar Siman Tov said.
Shoppers have their temperature taken before entering Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem, April 26, 2020Ohad Zwigenberg
According to Bar Siman Tov, a confirmed case at a mall or market without use of the app would mean “sending hundreds or thousands of people into quarantine, and we don’t want that.” He added that “this isn’t any complicated technological development. It’s all things that already exist.”
Other preventive measures, such as limiting the number of customers inside the mall at any time, an obligation to wear face masks and taking visitors’ temperatures, are also expected to be employed.