The Israeli government voted Thursday to lift some elements of its lockdown as the number of new coronavirus cases continued to decline.
The decision, which will go into effect on Sunday, will permit Israelis to go more than 1,000 meters beyond their homes without the need for a special reason, order takeout from restaurants, visit beaches, send their children to day care centers and kindergartens, and reopen some businesses.
But other restrictions will remain in place, including bans on the opening of bars, restaurants, malls, and event halls. Elementary, middle and high schools will also remain closed.
At a news conference, Yuli Edelstein, the health minister, pointed to “encouraging data” on the spread of the virus, but he said Israelis still had “a long road” ahead of them
When the lockdown began on Sept. 18 at the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the country’s seven-day rolling average was about 4,300 new cases, according to Our World in Data. As of Thursday, the number had fallen to about 2,500 cases.
Israel moved quickly to reopen the country in May after an earlier lockdown, throwing open the doors of schools, restaurants, bars and other gathering places. But experts say the government moved too hastily, allowing the virus to spread out of control.
On Thursday, Mr. Edelstein stressed that Israel would be reopened with “careful and calculated steps” in the hopes of avoiding a third lockdown.
While the latest closings appear to have helped stem the spread of the virus, they have taken a major toll on the economy. The central bank has estimated that it has cost the economy more than $2 billion per week.
Many business owners have also said that the government has failed to provide them with sufficient financial support as their companies teeter on the brink of bankruptcy.