No, this is not a new, poorly-timed tourism campaign.
Israel on Tuesday opened the first of its so-called “corona hotels” to house those of the 304 (at press time) Israelis infected with coronavirus who are showing only mild symptoms.
Four of the infected Israelis are in serious condition, and five have fully recovered.
To ease the strain on hospitals, and avoid the infection of additional medical staff, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered that the nation’s many hotels, which anyway have no visitors, be converted to facilities to house those in mild condition.
More than 100 Israeli hotels have closed in recent weeks as the tourism industry came to a complete standstill. The Dan Panorama Tel Aviv was among them and is the first to now open its doors as a “corona hotel.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night announced further measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus.
Israel is doing everything it can to avoid a full lockdown, but Netanyahu said that 70-80 percent of workers in the public sector would now either work from home, go on early Passover vacation, or be sent into unpaid vacation.
He urged the private sector to do the same and reminded Israelis that it is already forbidden for more than 10 people to be together in a closed space.
Banks and grocery stores will remain open, and Netanyahu reiterated that there is no shortage of food or other necessities.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that a further five billion shekels (in addition to 3 billion announced earlier) would be put aside to help compensate businesses and self-employed individuals impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.
No curfew, but invasions of privacy
The government said that at present it has no plans to implement a general curfew but would impose a curfew on isolated communities with a high number of coronavirus cases.
Netanyahu and his cabinet also approved the use of digital surveillance to keep tabs on the infected and the tens of thousands of Israelis who are supposed to be in self-quarantine.
Those found violating quarantine face stiff fines and even jail time.