Return of the Masks

Now of all times, with the oppressive heat of July-August upon us, the masks have returned

The masks are back, for now
Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

June is nearly over and we are again faced with the hot summer months of July and August. It makes me recall a song by Shlomo Artzi titled “Chom Yuli-August”, translated “July-August Heat.” (Note: The song is less about the heat than about the everyday lives of Israeli soldiers during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt following the Six Day War.) In fact, these are the two hottest months here in Israel. Summer is here, the air conditioning runs almost non-stop. I feel comfortably cool now, but when I get the electricity bill for these months, I am sure that I will be hot. But I’ve gotten used to it, or better, I’ve come to terms with the fact that summer is more expensive.

I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that masks have returned to our daily lives, at least indoors. Yesterday I bought a new pack of black masks. I just don’t like those blue masks, they remind me too much of hospitals. It wasn’t easy to find the masks. Many stores have not yet restocked following the renewed government restrictions. In the end I managed to get hold of a pack of black masks, but they were now a bit more expensive than just before the supposed end of the corona crisis in Israel back in April.

The mask is part of our everyday life again. Yesterday at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.

Now the number of new infections is rising again and my hometown of Modiin is almost at the top of the infection list. Modiin is now “orange,” one step away from “red.” Some 100 locals are currently infected, and more than 1,000 people are in quarantine. But, and that’s a big “but,” almost nobody has gotten seriously ill or required hospitalization. And those who get sick are almost exclusively young people who have not yet been vaccinated. So I’m trying to stay optimistic and don’t think we’re facing another Corona wave. Yesterday, the new Corona committee established by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided that there would be no further restrictions beyond masks indoors given that the hospitalization rates have not increased.

We therefore try to carry on with everyday life as best we can. The mask is in the bag and when we go into a store, it is put on briefly. No big deal, really.

At the same time, it looks unfavorable for the tourists who have been waiting for so long to finally return to Israel. We are also waiting for it. A little more patience, I’m sure it won’t be long. As soon as Israel can figure out an effective way to keep new variants of the virus out of the country, the airport will be opened to tourists. It sounds like a complicated task. But let’s remain confident.

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