RAMALLAH, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Palestine approved a series of economic relaxations amid continued fight against COVID-19 in the Palestinian territories, senior officials said Monday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who chaired an online meeting of the Palestinian Authority cabinet in Ramallah, called for "a systematic relaxation of the emergency measures in some West Bank areas."
The official news agency WAFA reported that the decision of Abbas "was made on the eve of the Muslims' fasting month of Ramadan."
"The crisis has put us before two choices: either to go for harsh precautionary measures or lose our people. Therefore, we do our best not to lose any of our people or their children," Abbas was quoted as saying.
On March 5, right after the first coronavirus cases were recorded in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Abbas declared a state of emergency for 30 days, and then extended it for another 30 days.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said on Monday that the economic relaxations were made under the recommendations of the Health Ministry, the security apparatuses and the government.
"The economic relaxations will consider the public safety, as health measures will be intensified in a way under the general principle to balance health and economy," he told a news briefing in Ramallah.
Several economic establishments covering agriculture, food and private craftsmanship, each with fewer than three employees, will be allowed to operate in the districts with no recorded infections or a limited number of cases, according to Ishtaye.
"They will be allowed to work from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and stores will open only on Friday and Saturday every week," he said.
Meanwhile, food and medicine factories will be allowed to operate in the districts of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron "on condition that they abide by the mentioned rules," the prime minister added.
"Factories which produce goods for export will be allowed to operate for 50 percent," Ishtaye noted.
Mosques, churches, and places where people gather such as wedding and mourning houses will remain closed, while all public activities, such as parties, festivals, public receptions and mass breakfasts in Ramadan are still prohibited.
Speaking about Palestinians who work in Israel, Ishtaye said the daily movement of workers is still banned, adding "those who violate the instructions will be punished."
In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs announced in a press statement that it decided to ban prayers in all mosques across Gaza during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Monday that the number of Palestinian coronavirus cases has reached 449 in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
Kamal al-Shakhra, director of Primary Healthcare in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told a news briefing that seven new cases were recorded on Monday, with five in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier in the day, the Palestinian Authority received a batch of medical aid from China, including protective outfits and nucleic acid testing kits. Enditem