Knesset approves: Restaurants to continue operating as usual

Seven committee members voted in favor, three opposed. Members of Blue and White abstained.

Knesset coronavirus committee votes to keep restaurants open, July 21, 2020 (photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)
Knesset coronavirus committee votes to keep restaurants open, July 21, 2020
(photo credit: ADINA WALLMAN/KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN)
The Knesset Coronavirus Committee pushed back against the government decision to limit restaurants to takeout and delivery on Tuesday.
 
The committee decided to allow restaurants to continue to operate according to the status quo. Seven committee members voted in favor, while three were opposed. Members of Blue and White abstained.
 
It became clear that the government was willing to open restaurants for outdoor seating only with up to 50 patrons at a time, committee chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton said Monday. The committee wanted to allow restaurants to operate inside seating, as well, at 25% to 35% occupancy, but the government would not budge.
 
“We need guidelines that the public can understand,” Shasha-Biton said. “The public is our key partner in the war against the virus… The committee recognizes the seriousness of its responsibility and believes in the importance of dialogue with the government.”
 
Coalition Chairman Mickey Zohar, who sits on the committee, said in response to the Knesset’s decision that it was “tainted by populism, which defeated common sense. I regret the dangerous decision, and we will act to correct it soon.”
 
Edelstein said the government was finding it difficult to pass minimal restrictions on the economy, which causes everyone to struggle.
 
“I understand the confusion that Israel’s citizens feel,” he said at Rambam Health Care Campus. “This is not due to the decisions of the Health Ministry. The confusion is created from the struggle between the government and the Knesset.”
 
Last Thursday at 2 a.m., the government announced that restaurants would close except for takeout and delivery. The next day at 4 p.m., the government said they could stay open until Tuesday at 5 a.m.
 
On Tuesday morning, they closed. By Tuesday afternoon, they were told they could open again.
 
The government is considering requesting a court order to limit the activity of restaurants and at the same time will try to get the Knesset to approve its directive on restaurants, bypassing the Coronavirus Committee.
 
Moreover, it is expected that the new coronavirus advisory board will meet on Thursday and potentially determine the need for a total lockdown.
 
This flip-flopping has also led the religious community to question the government’s directives.
 
Chief Rabbi David Lau called on the government to change its decision regarding worship in synagogues. The number of people allowed to pray in any given synagogue should be commensurate with its size, he said.
 
The government’s limit of 20 people in a prayer service was arbitrary, Lau said, adding that it was illogical that the same number of worshipers be permitted in both small and large synagogues.
 
Only “a small percentage of infections” have taken place in synagogues, based on recently released data that showed 4.8% of infections occurred in religious institutions, he said. With the approaching High Holy Days, it would be fitting to be more flexible, Lau said.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.


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