What will Netanyahu, Katz do to prevent economic fallout amid lockdown?

Economy Minister Amir Peretz is pushing to adopt a ‘German Model’ of unemployment, but how will this help hundreds of mall workers who are about to be sent on unpaid leave?

Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel Katz (L) whispers to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018
Before leaving for Washington on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had instructed Finance Minister Israel Katz to present to the government on Thursday, less than 24 hours before a three-week lockdown begins, an economic plan to help businesses.
On Monday, N12 reported that Katz had promised “to do everything to ensure businesses will keep working and that there will be as few unemployed workers as possible.”
He pointed out that the threshold to receive state aid had been lowered from a 40% loss, when compared to 2019, to a 25% loss. “We are putting together a safety net for hotels and restaurants,” he added.
Katz highlighted a Central Bureau of Statistics study that reported COVID-19 related unemployment went down to 9.8% from 10.3%.
In theory, this means unemployment benefits could be reduced, because the CBS reported it is now below 10%.
But such a step seems unlikely, as many business owners intend to send their employees on unpaid leave during the lockdown.
Restaurant owners smashed plates in protest at the moment Netanyahu signed the accords with the UAE and Bahrain in Washington on Tuesday, and Yesh Atid MK Idan Roll slammed the planned restrictions, asking why there was a ban on picking up take-out orders, while going to pick an etrog for Sukkot was allowed.
“It’s forbidden to dip in a swimming pool,” he tweeted, “but fine to dip in the mikveh [ritual bath]... come on government, share your reasons with us!”
Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi joked on Monday that he was now calling his city “Eiltos,” adding the Greek-sounding suffix, because he thinks it’s unfair that Israelis are allowed to go to Greece, “which has more COVID-19 patients than Eilat,” but not to his city, he told N12.
Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir called on the government to exempt the southern resort city and guest houses in the North from the lockdown rules.
“People don’t get infected in a guest house any more than they do at home,” he said on Tuesday, “and the 500 meter [travel] restriction that limits them is not reasonable.”
HEALTH MINISTER Yuli Edelstein warned before the decision was made to enact a nationwide lockdown that he would not accept a “Swiss cheese” outlay, but now, it seemed various groups are attempting to drill holes for their own benefit before the lockdown comes into force.
Avi Shomer, one of the owners of the Tzomet Sfarim bookstore chain, told The Marker: “We no longer believe the government. Until they decide something, and sign it into law, we will have a COVID-19 vaccination.”
The government had months to prepare for the possibility of a second lockdown, and “we [still] can’t get answers on whether chains [in shopping malls] can operate a delivery service, or allow people to collect items [on location],” said Dedi Rizel, the head of the Union of Commercial and Food Chains.  
Hundreds of shopping mall employees are expected to lose their jobs, as their employers now only need workers to handle Internet orders and logistics.
Hay Galis, CEO of BIG Shopping Centers, wrote to his workers that this is “one of the greatest debacles the country has experienced since its establishment.”
BIG has told its renters they won’t be asked to pay rent or management fees during the lockdown.
The Employment Service released a report on Tuesday pointing to a steady decline in the number of people able to secure work after being let go: 282,000 in May, 179,000 in June, 42,000 in July and 20,500 in August.
The service warned that those who aren’t able to bounce back into the job market might find it very hard to gain employment later on. More Israelis were seeking work in July and August than those hired.  
Economy Minister Amir Peretz called to “unite around a flexible model of unpaid leave, and in so doing, bring back in a short amount of time thousands of workers to the job market.”
Peretz had been calling for the adoption of a “German model” of unemployment to fight back a trend of people relying on unemployment grants until next year, which Netanyahu and Katz already promised to extend, as long as the CBS reports the jobless figure is 10% or more.