Thousands of Israelis head to beaches, markets, flouting social distancing rules – Times of Israel

May 1, 2020

Police see ‘significant weakening of discipline’ among public, warn they are still enforcing regulations with fines even as some restrictions lifted

By Times of Israel TOI STAFF 1 May 2020

Israelis shop at a market in Ramle on May 1, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Police on Friday reportedly expressed concern that thousands of Israelis were flouting social distancing rules and flocking to beaches and markets, warning that they would still fine violators.

Hundreds of people took advantage of the warm weather to spend time outside, heading to beaches in Tel Aviv and Herzliya, many of them not keeping to distancing rules and not wearing masks. Others thronged to markets to shop ahead of the Sabbath or were just hanging out in outdoor spaces, like Tel Aviv’s iconic Dizengoff Square.

A senior police official told Channel 13 news that there was a “significant weakening of discipline” among the public regarding adherence to coronavirus restrictions and said police were still enforcing restrictions.

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As the number of new infections has slowed, the government has begun loosening restrictions meant to contain the pandemic, such as lifting the limit on the distance Israelis can exercise from their homes and allowing many businesses to reopen.People shop for food at the market in Ramle on May 1, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

However, it has also kept in a place a ban on traveling more than 100 meters from one’s home if not for a permitted activity, while requiring Israelis to wear a mask outside and urging them to follow social distancing directives.

In Jerusalem, Mayor Moshe Lion arrived at the popular Mahane Yehuda market with inspectors to fine people who were not following rule. Video from the scene showed dozens of people crowded together as they shopped.((Jewlicious))@jewlicious

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon (in baby blue t-shirt) visits the Mahane Yehuda market and gets yelled at by merchants and passers by. Maybe next time don’t show up with city inspectors giving out fines genius.

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In the city of Ashdod, police fined two seminary students for allegedly taking part in prayers on the roof of their yeshiva in violation of restrictions.

Video aired by the Kan public broadcaster shows a large group of ultra-Orthodox demonstrators standing outside the Grudna Yeshiva and yelling at the police.כאן חדשות@kann_news

שוטרים קנסו שני אברכים בישיבת גרודנא באשדוד, אחרי שהתפללו עם חבריהם על גג הישיבה בניגוד להנחיות. האברכים קראו לצעירים נוספים, התקהלו סביב הניידת וצעקו לה להתרחק בקריאות “רודף ישראל”
(צילום: יחיאל ברונר)@pozailov1

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Some 55,000 citations have been handed out in the last several weeks for infractions, including not wearing a mask or being more than 100 meters from home to breaking quarantine or isolation orders. The fines range from NIS 200 to NIS 5,000 ($57-$1,440).Israelis enjoy the beach promenade and beach in Tel Aviv, as some restrictions on exercise were lifted on May 1, 2020. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

According to the police, fines can be handed out for “violations related to quarantine and reporting requirements; disobeying instructions to disperse a forbidden assembly; violations related to operating businesses or shops; going out into the public space in a prohibited manner, in contravention of regulations; loitering in the public space in a prohibited location; prayer in contravention of regulations; violations related to the requirement to wear or carry a face mask; and additional prohibitions set out in regulations.”

New guidelines approved by the government this week slap a NIS 200 fine on anyone over the age of 7 caught without a face mask when in public, including first-time offenders, who previously got away with a warning.כאן חדשות@kann_news

ההקלות בהסגר: כך נראה כעת רחוב בן גוריון בתל אביב @OferHalfonKan

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Under the rule, masks covering the mouth and nose must be worn “anywhere outside the residence.” Business owners must also deny entry and service to customers who are not wearing masks.

The rule, however, does not apply to people with emotional, mental or medical conditions that would prevent them from wearing a mask, drivers in their cars, people alone in a building, and two workers who work regularly together, provided they maintain social distancing.

Additionally, police said Thursday that over 200 criminal cases have been opened “related to quarantine violations, violating a lawful instruction and spreading the virus,” and some 150 businesses have been shuttered “for violation of the regulations.”Israeli police and soldiers guard at a roadblock in a Jerusalem neighborhood that is currently under a lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, on May 1, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A nationwide curfew ended Wednesday evening as Israel’s 72nd Independence Day came to a close, with further restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus set to be eased in the coming days.

Restrictions on physical exercise outdoors were partly lifted Thursday morning, with sports enthusiasts no longer limited to a distance of 500 meters from home, in accordance with a cabinet decision earlier this week.

Group sports are still prohibited.

The restriction preventing citizens from going more than 100 meters from their homes except for specified activities (work, shopping, sports, etc.) is still in effect. However, it will likely be removed early next week, as police have said they cannot enforce it with so many other restrictions eased.

Swimming in the sea and visiting beaches is still prohibited.

Outdoor markets could also open next week, subject to social distancing limitations.Now, more than ever, is the time to support quality journalismA MESSAGE FROM THE EDITORDAVID HOROVITZ

Our team is covering the coronavirus crisis in Israel and the Jewish world around the clock – because we know how essential trustworthy information is to you right now. If you appreciate the fast, fair and free journalism of Times of Israel, then now is the time to support our work – and receive an AD-FREE experience.Read moreJOIN THE TIMES OF ISRAEL COMMUNITYAlready a member? Sign in to stop seeing thisREAD MORE:

Steve Martin

STEVE & LAURIE MARTIN - LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE FOUNDERS My good wife Laurie and I (45 years in October 2022!), through the ministry of Love For His People we founded in 2010, give love and support for our friends in Israel and in other nations with friendship, humanitarian aid, and social media support, along with Steve's messages, and our Ahava Adventures trips to Israel. Steve has also authored and published 33 books. We live in the Charlotte, NC area. We have four adult children, spouses, and eight grandkids.

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