Photo taken on March 17, 2020 shows an empty street in Jerusalem. The residents here are urged to stay at home and to avoid physical contact with the outside world if not necessary. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)
by Nick Kolyohin
JERUSALEM, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Israeli authorities are urging the residents of the country to stay at home and to avoid physical contact with the outside world if not necessary.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday addressed the country with an urgent call on citizens to obey the guidance of the ministry of health.
"The restrictions do not mean holidays. We must not turn these days into leisure days. The danger is real!" stated Rivlin.
Rivlin urged people to keep social distancing and not to gather, adding "I hear that our beaches and hiking trails are bursting."
The Israeli public has been generally reluctant about the warnings of the immediate danger of the novel coronavirus.
Over the past two months, the Israeli Ministry of Health raised alarms about a possible outbreak of the virus in Israel and started with educating the public about self-hygiene.
Part of the population has taken seriously the new restrictions as self-isolation if requested, keeping two meters from each other and not gathering more than 10 people in one place.
While other parts of the population celebrated the free time due to partial close of workplaces and schools and gathered at parks, beaches, main streets, and even coffee places.
On Tuesday, the ministry that was upset with public gatherings released new restrictions that completely forbid social contacts outside of the households if not necessarily.
Hours after the new health guidelines published some shops were still open and people on the streets continued to wander.
One of the major steps in the endeavors to keep people at home is the introduction of online study platforms for students.
However, online study faces lots of challenges.
"Most university courses are filmed and uploaded to the webserver so students can view them. My courses are seminars and workshops, so the online format changes the whole nature of the courses," said Shir Dermer, a student at Tel Aviv University.
"Labs and practical courses are not held online," said Dermer.
Dermer added that the new way of study requires a high degree of self-discipline that not all the students have, and online learning does not allow asking questions as in regular classes.
Another concern that prevents Israelis from staying at home is their deep commitment to domestic and street animals.
Noa Deutsch, an animal advocate, is one of those having a hard time dealing with the new reality.
"Cats around the country are left without food and are at risk of starving to death," said Deutsch.
Deutsch, as other animal supporters, is working around the clock to provide food for the street cats living around restaurants, hotels and other places where food was normally available.
Ronen Bar, the founder of Sentient, an animal advocacy organization, said "it is a time of great change and challenges."
"We saw this with the bird flu, swine flu and now COVID-19. It is a ticking time bomb, so we expect governments and the public to be much more active on these issues in the future to come," stressed Bar.