Israel to Begin Reopening Economy in February, Minister Says

The walkways at Dizingof shopping mall stand deserted following the start of a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Israel’s cabinet voted to impose a second nationwide lockdown starting Friday to try to tamp down a raging coronavirus outbreak, brushing aside appeals from both a business world warning of economic strangulation, and the powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.
The walkways at Dizingof shopping mall stand deserted following the start of a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Israel’s cabinet voted to impose a second nationwide lockdown starting Friday to try to tamp down a raging coronavirus outbreak, brushing aside appeals from both a business world warning of economic strangulation, and the powerful ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

(Bloomberg) -- Israel will begin gradually reopening its economy from February, and much of it will be active by March, Finance Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday.

The country has been under lockdown since the end of December, its third since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, as infections continue to climb.

“We will have to be very exact with our decisions, in order to stop the spread of infection on the one hand, and allow the economy to reopen on the other,” Katz said in an interview with Kan radio.

Israel’s economy probably contracted by 3.7% in 2020, according to the central bank’s Jan. 4 estimate. The economy may expand by as much as 6.3% in 2021 under a rapid vaccine drive, or as little as 3.5% if doses are given out gradually, according to the forecast. Some 23% of the population has received its first dose of vaccine in a two-dose regimen, and 2.5% have had both doses.

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