Karmiel shopping centers, malls reopen despite national restriction

Businesses and shopping centers in Karmiel reopened on Tuesday morning, in violation of government guidelines, N12 reported. While malls and shopping centers across the country remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Karmiel in northern Israel has taken the law into its own hands and has announced: the city’s shopping centers can reopen. Karmiel Mayor Moshe Kuninsky made the announcement on Monday, saying that he will allow businesses whose employees have been vaccinated to reopen. Specifically, a business needs to be able to prove that its employees have received the second dose of the vaccine at least seven days prior. A Facebook post published by the Karmiel municipality noted that the number of customers allowed in shops at any giving moment would be defined according to the Health Ministry guidelines.

ראש העיר כרמיאל החליט לפתוח את מרכזי הקניות והמסחר! ראש עיריית כרמיאל משה קונינסקי החליט לאפשר פתיחת חנויות ועסקים…

Posted by ‎כרמיאל – karmiel‎ on Monday, 8 February 2021

And while many shops in Karmiel took the opportunity to reopen after months of nearly no income and piling debts, many still seem to fear the possibility of getting infected.

“People are not making a living, they have no choice but to open,” a local Karmiel resident told N12, adding that “people are maintaining the guidelines and all the rules … “shops are operating in a 50{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38} capacity.”Others expressed more caution, noting that police officers may not care about Karmiel municipality’s instructions which oppose the national directive. “I heard about the rebellion, but I’m still afraid,” a local florist told N12. “I would love to reopen my shop, but I feel like decision being made in the local authority do not apply to decisions on the national level. If a police inspector comes by I won’t be able to say that I was told that it was allowed. I’m trying to keep the law,” he added.  Kuninsky said that he hopes that the move would encourage more people to vaccinate. “I’m convinced that my decisions will allow for a gradual return of the city’s businesses to routine activity in the best and safest way, and will encourage those who’ve been avoiding so, to go and get vaccinated,” Kuninsky wrote in a Facebook post.Shopping centers operated by the Big Group did not wait for the official approval and reportedly announced Tuesday morning that most of their fashion and clothing shops in Karmiel were reopened and fully operational. While the third nationwide lockdown was lifted on Sunday, the government has yet to outline an exit strategy and has prohibited the reopening of shopping centers and malls at this point. Currently, debates taking place in the coronavirus cabinet are focused on reopening the country’s education system.   In related news, the peak of Israel’s tourism industry, Mount Hermon, also reopened its gates for visitors on Tuesday morning and may now face some severe consequences. MK Amit Halevi (Likud) addressed a letter to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana stating that the reopening of the site “is illegal and violates coronavirus restrictions,” Maariv, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication reported.  In his letter, Halevi explained that while the Knesset’s Constitution Committee had recently approved the reopening of national parks, it prohibited the reopening of sites that provide touristic attractions. Halevi concluded his letter by asking the Public Security Ministry and the Israel Police “to act without delay in order to enforce the law.”  Noting the trend of ignoring national directives, Israel’s Hotels Association announced on Tuesday that it will reopen the country’s hotels next week if the government does not agree on an approved date soon. A group of restaurant owners made a similar statement. Later Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the issue of more and more businesses announcing that they will open regardless of the government decisions, saying such announcements are unacceptable, and calling on Public Security Amir Ohana to make sure that the laws passed are implemented nationwide.

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