Parks, trails packed on Shabbat, after Knesset votes to keep country open

Libraries, zoos, museums, pools and other tourist attractions were shut last weekend. However, on Thursday, the Knesset Coronavirus Committee voted in favor of keeping them open.

The Tel Aviv-area Yarkon river is one of the most beautiful spots in central Israel (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The Tel Aviv-area Yarkon river is one of the most beautiful spots in central Israel
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Nearly 60,000 hikers visited Israel's national parks and nature reserves on Saturday, according to the Nature and Parks Authority.
The most common places that people visited included Yarkon-Tel Afek with 2,500 hikers; Ein Gedi Reserve with 1,900 hikers; Gan Hashlosha with 1,700 hikers; and the Banias and the Majrasa with 1,500 hikers at each site.
The government had voted last week to close all tourist sites over the weekends from 5 p.m. until Sundays at 5 a.m., citing the rising spread of the novel coronavirus.
Libraries, zoos, museums, pools and other tourist attractions were shut last weekend. However, on Thursday, the Knesset Coronavirus Committee voted in favor of keeping them open.
“It is necessary to geographically disperse the population and open the attractions over the weekends in order to prevent overcrowding in certain places,” committee chairwoman and Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton said Thursday. She added that she wants “every decision the committee makes here to be the best decision, because the industry needs stability.”
The attractions are all operating under Health Ministry guidelines and the police are meant to be monitoring and enforcing the use of masks at these locations.
Last month, workers from the tourism industry protested outside the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, as the industry continues to remain largely closed due to coronavirus restrictions and the lack of foreign visitors. The hope is that local tourism could help revive parts of the industry.
The Health Ministry reported on Saturday evening that as of that afternoon there were
33,160 active patients, including 94 on ventilators and 312 in serious condition. Additionally, the country's death toll rose to 455.
Also on Saturday night, the police reported that some 2,723 fines for violating corona-related regulations were given over the weekend, over 2,500 of which to people who were not wearing masks.