Tel Aviv stores silent in the shadow of coronavirus

One store worker said stores had been selling "under the radar" - meaning off the books - since the start of COVID-19.

The fountain on Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv. City residents are enjoying the sun as business owners feel greater and greater insecurity about the future. (photo credit: HAGAY HACOHEN)
The fountain on Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv. City residents are enjoying the sun as business owners feel greater and greater insecurity about the future.
(photo credit: HAGAY HACOHEN)
Dizengoff shopping center was mostly empty on Thursday despite shops being allowed to serve up to 10 people at a time. Business owners were curt and quiet, and most of them declined to discuss the challenges they are facing in the COVID-19 era.
“We are an essential business and so are allowed to work,”  a manager at Hamashbir Lazarchan said, though she asked not to be named. “For all other questions you’ll need to contact our legal department.”  
Workers at Fox and other major fashion stores also declined to comment. The refusal extended to street stores as well. To the manager of a photo shop and a sex toy store - COVID-19 had scared them into silence.
Those who would share without their names were angry: “We Israelis were never in the USSR, but we’re getting closer to that every day,” one source at the area mall told The Jerusalem Post.
He said that people were renewing their subscriptions to newspapers because “they are so scared these days and need to know what’s going on.” He added that many of the stores were open against restrictions, because “I think Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai gave a discreet nod to the police not to hassle stores, as long as they work under the radar.”
One store worker said stores had been selling "under the radar" - meaning off the books - since the start of COVID-19.
Tamar Bregman, an elderly woman, waited in line to pick up a parcel from KSP Computers.
“I’m glad stores are working again,” she said. “The streets of Tel Aviv had become sad and their vibe diminished.”  She said that while she was out, her partner stayed inside most of the time.
“He is older than me and at risk,” she explained.
But she said it has made their lifestyle challenging. The couple lives in a small Tel Aviv apartment. “We got used to treating the local café as our own living room” - now the cafe is not open.
She said her partner has become “depressed” and most days “doesn’t even want to get out of bed.”
Bregman added that his friends are afraid, too. They want to meet each other, even in a public park, “but there is always the risk that someone got the virus.”
“He told me yesterday that we should show a little more patience and the vaccine will become a reality soon,” she concluded.
Fashion chain Adika also reopened, and a long line of patient young women stood outside waiting to be allowed in. Lone IDF soldier Nastasia Terem, who made aliyah a year and a half ago from Miami, was happy to share her experiences.  
“It’s exciting to come home from the IDF and see that the city is alive,” she said.
She pointed out that, as far as she can see, health regulations are being observed and people are wearing their masks.  
“I do love fashion,” she told the Post, “but the safety of the country comes first.”