Businesses face third lockdown: 'There will be riots in the streets'

About 7,500 businesses will be forced to close, on top of 75,000 that have already been shuttered in 2020.

Shops in Jerusalem sit closed during the national coronavirus lockdown, Oct. 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Shops in Jerusalem sit closed during the national coronavirus lockdown, Oct. 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Business owners are seething with rage, and some are threatening resistance, as the country entered its third lockdown of the year on Sunday.
The Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel have each estimated that the lockdown, which began at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, will cost the economy NIS 2.5 billion, or NIS 3b. per week, while the Manufacturers Association has calculated a cost of NIS 7.7b. per week.
About 7,500 businesses will be forced to close, on top of the 75,000 that have already been shuttered in 2020, according to an analysis by CofaceBdi.
The businesses that will bear the brunt of that are outraged.
“I don’t think stores will be closing down during this lockdown,” said Ilan Ben-Harosh, an activist for the business community who owns an electronics store in the center of Jerusalem. “People cooperated in the first and second lockdowns. But everyone sees this as a political move, calculated by people making NIS 50,000 a month in the Knesset. I’m afraid there will be riots in the streets, even bloodshed.”
“We see how the large supermarket chains like Shufersal and Rami Levy are allowed to continue to operate, selling everything we sell on their websites, taking all of our clients, while we are left to die,” he said. “People aren’t going to cooperate because they have nothing left to lose anymore.”
“The pandemic is terrible, but I don’t see any reason to close down all the businesses,” Ben-Harosh said. “Leave us alone to work with our masks, with our alcogel. It can’t continue this way anymore.”
Keren Tennenbaum from the Golan Heights was furious as she prepared to close down her restaurant again for the lockdown.
“Over the last 10 months we have been open for only about two months,” she said. “The rules keep changing. First one lockdown, then another. Sometimes takeaway was allowed, sometimes not. Our restaurant has a large open garden, but you aren’t allowed to sit here. So I’m expected to tell people to take their food and go sit in the park nearby instead of in my garden. It’s a joke.”
How is Tennenbaum going to handle the lockdown?
“The government isn’t going to break me so quickly,” she laughed, before turning serious. “But I’m going to close the restaurant for now. I don’t know what will happen in the future.”
Nurit Schechter, an event organizer in Shoham, expressed similar sentiments.
“There is no logic to this lockdown,” she said. “We have closed our business and then made massive efforts to reopen. We have done everything possible to comply with the rules, but we are discriminated against. Everyone understands that this comes due to personal interests and political calculations, not health considerations. The small businesses that have no official representation are cast aside.”
Schechter is one of the organizers of Tachles, a community dedicated to strengthening the position of Israel’s small businesses. The organization has organized more than 60 protests around the country and is now forming a political party that will run for the next Knesset.
“We need to come together to have strength in the government,” she said.