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Prayer Returns to Jerusalem's Western Wall as Israel Lifts Major Lockdown Restrictions

Prayer notes removed from Western Wall. Photo: CBN News/Jonathan Goff
Prayer notes removed from Western Wall. Photo: CBN News/Jonathan Goff

JERUSALEM, Israel – The Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one place that is re-opening for everyone in Israel following a promising trend of declining infection rates.

The holy site is now open for general prayer although people must pray in designated areas to keep social distancing.

Israelis are also allowed to visit immediate family members, including grandparents, for the first time since the outbreak began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a press conference. However, Israelis must still maintain hygiene rules during those visits. That means no hugging or kissing when visiting elderly family members.

Citizens are now allowed to venture more than 100 meters away from their homes and groups of up to 20 people will be allowed to meet outdoors. That number will increase to no more than 50 individuals within two weeks. Up to 50 people are now allowed to attend wedding ceremonies.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted by May 31 and all restrictions on gatherings will be lifted on June 14, "assuming that no red light is lit."

Netanyahu also announced that all malls and outdoor markets will be allowed to reopen on Thursday. 

Elementary school students in first through third grades were permitted to return to school on Sunday. Kindergartens will reopen May 10 and all students will return to their classes by the end of the month.

"We have developed a wide-ranging plan in recent days that enable the State of Israel to return gradually to a 'coronavirus-adapted routine,'" said Netanyahu. "But returning the economy, public and private arenas remain dependent on you, the citizens. It depends on your discipline and responsibility."

Netanyahu said the easing of restrictions can only continue as long as there are less than 100 new cases per day and urged Israelis to continue social distancing, wearing masks, and maintaining good hygiene.

He warned that a second outbreak is possible and the restrictions will return if there is a new outbreak of COVID-19.

More than 16,200 Israelis have been infected with COVID-19. About 10,000 people have already recovered and 235 have died.


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