Thursday, March 12, 2020

Israel Today In Corona Times

Because I forgot to take a photo of the bus. 
Israel has banned all inside gatherings of more than 100 people.

All incoming air passengers from abroad are compelled by law to be in self-isolation for 14 days. This has to be in a private residence, not in a hotel. Tourists are being encouraged to leave asap. 

One of my colleagues is supposed to be getting married next week with a big wedding planned. It's not going to happen as planned, that's for sure. 

On the buses the first one or two rows behind the driver are cordoned off so that no one can sit behind the driver and cough or even breathe on him. Taxis that are working are driving with all the windows open. 

I now know people in quarantine who I spoke to face to face before they entered self-isolation. I have made deliveries to friends in quarantine and left them at the door. My neighbour came back from abroad and is in quarantine so we are going to have coffee dates on our neighbouring (though not adjoining) balconies.

In fact tens of thousands are in self-isolation, possibly up to 1% of the country. This includes whole schools and Synagogue communities.

The cashiers in the supermarket are wearing surgical gloves. Apparently at one supermarket, they are taking everyone's temperature before they let them in. (Rami Levy in Jerusalem).

No parents are allowed to enter the schools, only students and staff. 

Another colleague was going to America with her family of six to finalize the children's US citizenship. It's an enormously expensive trip and they are not a family who ever travel abroad normally. They have cancelled and will possibly recoup half their money. 

On the bright side, Israel produces enough fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs and chicken, to be permanently self sufficient. And we have enough grain, sugar and beef to last the next six months, for everyone. (I don't know about toilet paper but there seems to be plenty in the supermarkets I've been to.)

Despite this, people are stockpiling for the next three-four weeks. We're not worried about shortages but rather that we may be told to go into self-isolation immediately. All it takes is for one person who was at synagogue, one colleague, or one child at school to test positive. This happened to a friend of mine. You get a notice and there's no just popping out to the supermarket before you start. It's immediate with a penalty of up to 7 years in jail for not complying.  

I changed a coffee date for tomorrow morning to a going for a walk date. Or if it's raining we'll drink coffee at my place. Yes, it has got to the stage where I don't feel comfortable sitting in a cafe. Theatres are closed. 100 hotels are closed and 100 more due to close on Sunday. 

Many businesses are now fully working from homes for the next month. Others have enforced unpaid leave on their workers because e.g. in the tourist industry, there are no clients.

People are already reluctant to spend money because of the economy. Many families live pay-cheque to pay-cheque and have hefty mortgages. Obviously this has a knock on effect and will only get worse. 

And I'm pleased that this country is taking it so seriously because I read horrific descriptions about what's happening in Northern Italy atm. I won't post links as even in the midst of all this, I still have this aversion to being a panic monger. But you can google it and find out for yourself. 

Breaking news is that they may be canceling all schools and colleges until after Passover (Pesach) - April 19th. The Ministry of Education is pushing for it and they are discussing with the government now.

UPDATE: SCHOOLS CLOSED UNTIL AFTER PESACH. DD is dancing around the apartment with joy. (Don't tell her that they'll probably take three weeks off the summer holidays.) Other families are freaking out. One good thing is that the closure doesn't include kindergartens or special ed.


  1. Our schools have closed from tomorrow for a week at least but they are talking about extending it until the 24th April. I am starting to feel like I am in the minority but I do feel like everyone (governments, authorities etc) is overreacting, although I've kept quiet and not said that online (well, I hadn't until now!) I am worried, but not about the virus, more about the impact it will have on the economy and the knock on effects of all the worry. Saying that, I hope you and your friends and family stay well xx

    1. The economy - which means ordinary working people - is going to suffr dreadfully, you are right about that. Otoh, this is a deadly situation and it can be managed only with drastic measures. When can you get your pool open - that will help. At least we're not under house arrest. I wish you and all your family safe and healthy too. xxx

  2. Two of my friends were tested this week after his heart gave out from double-pneumonia - they were told today that they are negative but he is in ICU isolation and she had been confined to home - very scary.
    We had to cancel two programs that we run at the church and I have a feeling more will be cancelled or suspended next week.
    The kids are off on March break next week - and this afternoon they announced that this time off will be extended by two weeks! That set off the alarm bells! People have been stocking up at the stores but nothing crazy - tonight I stopped off just to pick up some milk and it was crazy - packed, carts piled high and whole sections emptied - especially TP, frozen fruit & veg, rice & pasta and no baked beans left at all! But - it was still very polite and fairly quiet. Clerks are wearing gloves & masks and they don't take your Loyalty Card from you anymore - you turn them over and they scan them.
    All sports have been suspended - and I expect more things will follow soon.
    Our PM's wife has it and he is in isolation too but feeling fine. She had been at a conference in the UK and they think that's where she picked it up.
    My office mate has decided to go into self-isolation for two weeks and yesterday she got tested. I'm not too worried - we all think she's made herself ill through anxiety. She is 73 so they checked her heart & lungs yesterday and they are fine - I really think they did the test just to keep her calmed. I'll actually enjoy the peace & quiet a bit as she has been driving me crazy.
    Over all I think Canada has done a good job of first containing and now mitigating things. Most of our cases have been travel related although there is now community transmission. Hospitals have had time to set up testing centres so that you don't have to go into a hospital and I assume testing will roll out more and more. We've now been told not to travel outside of Canada and not to go anywhere near a cruise ship!! My hands are raw from washing them so much but I'll keep it up.
    The most shocking thing to me is how poorly the US has done - it is a disgrace and I feel so sorry for them - what a fiasco!
    Stay safe!

    1. Thanks Margie, you stay safe too. I'll be updating regularly on the blog and you're welcome to comment with what's going on in Canada and with you personally. Lots of love. xxx