Wednesday 27 May marked the first day since mid-March that restaurants and cafes were allowed to open in Israel after the coronavirus lockdown, and while many eagerly headed out to eat, virus fears remained present in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, leaving some locations half empty.
In Tel Aviv, where cafe life is part of the city’s DNA, the trade was brisker. Some wore masks around their chins, others not at all. Elsewhere, Cafe Bucke, a trendy vegetarian eatery popular with young adults, was full, with tables spaced 1.5 meters (five feet) apart in line with Health Ministry instructions, disposable menus and waiting staff wearing masks in a variety of ways.
“We’re being careful [about coronavirus] and following all the Health Ministry directives,” said Pomeranz, who lives in the coastal city of Herzliya. “When I train with the team, we also follow the Sports Ministry’s guidelines.”
Noam Rizi, a veteran restaurateur in Jerusalem, who today runs event catering as well as the upscale Adom meat restaurant in the First Station complex with his two partners, was getting ready to open, having locked Adom’s doors on March 15 and sent the vast majority of its 75-strong staff on furlough.
The restaurant has seating for 165 but with Health Ministry instructions to keep tables apart, it was set to be full with just 100 diners.“The two and a half months that we closed very hard,” he said. “At Adom, we pay around NIS 500,000 ($143,000) per month to our suppliers. When we closed, we owed about NIS 1 million. But the income stopped. It was very difficult to explain to the suppliers.
“We’re in a world crisis and nobody is responsible. But I do blame the economic leadership of this country, from the finance minister down,” Adom continued.