This week in Jerusalem - A round-up of city affairs

What has been going on in Israel's capital this week?

SIP SOME corona-approved juice in your very own capsule at the First Station. (photo credit: LIOR SHAPIRA/FIRST STATION)
SIP SOME corona-approved juice in your very own capsule at the First Station.
(photo credit: LIOR SHAPIRA/FIRST STATION)
 All juiced up

Hopefully sooner than later, the coronavirus will be crushed, but until then life goes on. Wishing to offer their customers a safe and pleasant environment, small coffee shops and restaurants are deploying creative solutions.

For example, the Mitz Petel juice and beverage stand in the First Station has erected “capsules” made of light local materials that enable customers to enjoy menu offerings in comfort, yet in full conformance with Health Ministry guidelines.

Innovative solutions like this one, which was designed and created by a Bezalel Academy graduate and accepted enthusiastically by the First Station management, can help revitalize social, leisure and culture activities in the city.

Grounds for hope

Things seem to be moving in the right direction. Last week, Jerusalem reported the lowest number of new corona infections in over a month. As of the beginning of this week there were 5,773 ill residents and 485 new cases added. Over the holiday weekend, the number of tests in haredi sectors dropped.

By sector, there were 247 new reported cases among haredim last week, 27 in the Arab sector and 211 in the remainder of the population. Some 12% of people who took tests tested positive, and the trend is that this percentage is dropping.

Following these encouraging findings, Mayor Moshe Lion established a team of experts to help optimally navigate the crisis. One of the first decisions taken at this Sunday’s daily meeting at Lion’s offices was to begin preparations to reopen schools as soon as possible. Meanwhile, four additional testing stations are operating in the city as of this week – in Har Nof, Ramat Shlomo, Bayit Vegan and Romema. The latest municiapl data released Tuesday shows that only two haredi neighborhoods, Ramat Shlomo and Neveh Ya’acov, remain red.

Confronting COVID

After skyrocketing, the rates of infections, illness and death among the Arab population have dropped precipitously, apparently due to joint action by the municipality; local councils in that sector; and nonprofit and charity associations. An intensive advertising campaign was unleashed explaining the pandemic danger and ways to fight it.

The results: By the end of last week, only 9% of those tested were infected. Food baskets provided by associations and by Safra Square’s social work and community administration as well as the massive presence of social workers and community workers in the Arab neighborhoods all played a role in improving the situation.

True colors

What is the safest way to end the lockdown? Should Jerusalem adopt the differential model proposed by corona czar Prof. Roni Gamzu?

According to Health Ministry findings (from most to least infected): the haredi and religious neighborhoods of Rova Yehudi (Old City), Ramat Shlomo, Neveh Yaakov, Romema, Ramot, Shmuel Hanavi  and Har Nof are classified “red”; Givat Shaul, Bayit Vegan, Bukharim, Har Homa and French Hill are “orange”; Lev Ha’ir (Mahaneh Yehuda and Nahlaot), Pisgat Zeev, Gonenim, East Talpiot, Abu Tor, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and Ma’alei Zeitim are “yellow”; and Kiryat Yovel, Gilo, Baka, Beit Hanina, the German and Greek colonies, Rehavia, Zur Baher, Musrara, Beit Safafa, Kiryat Menachem, Beit Hakerem and A-Tur are now “green.” Representatives of the haredi lists at city council are adamant that there should be no closures imposed only on the haredi neighborhoods, but sources at Safra Square say the alternative is that the whole city will remain in lockdown, further damaging Jerusalem’s economy.