Jerusalem, Israel - October 14, 2020The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Israel have been extended until October 18, 2020. The Israeli tourism industry has been one of the main victims of the corona pandemic crisis. In Jerusalem, much of the economy is based on tourism.

Most hotels are closed, only the hotels housing coronavirus patients or those used as quarantining options are operating. There are no international tourists shopping in the shuttered Mamilla shops or other malls or shopping strips. Restaurant tables are piled up inside the locked dining spaces. A few have openings for take-out food or a number posted to call. Establishments selling food or medical supplies are allowed to be open.

In September, the number of tourists entering Israel fell, with 15,100 tourist entries recorded. This represents a decrease of 96% to September 2019. During the period January-September, 783,000 tourist entries were recorded, 76% down on the 3.295 million tourists in the same period last year. The significant decrease reflects a cumulative loss of revenue to the economy in the period January-September of 12.1 billion shekels. 

New Tourism Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen noted that opening the industry would be part of the solution to the unemployment problem, the emotional stress, the economy, and the crisis. 

"As I begin my term as Tourism Minister, the incoming tourism statistics are very bad. One of my first steps in the position was to reach an agreement with the Health Minister on presenting an exit strategy outline for the industry. The possibility is being examined that the outline will include 'green islands' that will facilitate isolating tourist cities at both their entrance and exit and create an area that allows for a healthy and economic vacation. I have come to work, without any days of grace, we will do whatever we can to ensure a speedy, efficient, and quality return within the confines of the virus that has entered our lives. In the outline, we will also emphasize the importance of opening tzimmerim, because, in our opinion, it is healthier for a family to drive to a tzimmer than to visit grandparents – for their health and emotional well-being.”

The photo essay includes Jerusalem scenes on the afternoon of October 14, 2020, under "lockdown" with streets empty and with much less traffic than normal due to the restrictions.