The Bilu Center shopping center near Rehovot, for example, is used to Saturdays full of people having fun, and a large part of the business owners in the complex indicate that about 40% of their monthly income comes from the weekend.
“This compound violates each other,” Tzachi Weiner, owner of the “Zo Club” store for products for animals, told Ynet today (Saturday). “Just because I can talk now means I have no job. I have no customers and the damage is very severe. I employ a lot of people on Saturday, and if I do not work on Saturdays I can not keep my employees. It is a political decision and we are only hurt by it.”
Moshe Vasarblik, owner of the barefoot shoe store chain, also says that Saturdays in the complex are an existential need for him. “It is difficult for us without the work on Saturdays, we will not be able to exist here,” he said. “The existential need to survive stronger than the law.” And Cerbalik believes that the decision to close the shopping centers is political. “The decision to close is delusional, like many decisions made here. We are traders who come to work from morning to night, we are not politicians. If I close on Saturday I will have to close the store. Revenue on Saturday is 40% of the monthly revenue.”
But even the business owners who are allowed to open, like restaurants and cafes, feel the decline in work. “All revenues here have dropped by at least 50%,” estimated Ron Ajulos, owner of a grill restaurant in the complex. “There are very few customers in the complex and there is no work at the moment. I decided together with my partner to work so that we could at least get something out of our daily routine,” he said. “The harm to us is very serious. We need to see how we can act on the issue.”
The few customers in the complex also expressed concern about the situation. “It is important that these places remain open on Saturday,” said Ziva Elimelech, who testified as a regular customer at the complex. “Poor people, there are almost no customers today. This country is being destroyed because of the corona, we need to open up, let people out of the house because now it’s black in the eyes.”
Elimelech added that “because of our age we do not go out, to come and do a round at the Bilu junction, to see a store or two, it is our pastime. I see all these closed shops and my heart aches. “
Anat Smokhi came to the compound with her children, and decided to return home because of the situation. “I do not understand why everything is closed if the whole week is open. It’s like air for us. All week we work and we miss it. We go home because there is nothing to do here, almost everything is closed.”
Yael, another customer who came to spend the Sabbath in the complex, added that “of course it is important to put on masks, keep your distance and limit the amount of people, but the business owners are really unhappy. A lot of businesses have collapsed.”
In the Shefayim outdoor shopping center, one of the few in the Sharon that is open on Saturday, it is very difficult to find parking at the weekend – but today this was no longer a problem. Ofer Jaeger, who came from Hod Hasharon with his wife, praised the stores. “We were now in a mall in Herzliya and everything was closed. Just an atmosphere of grief,” he said. “These places should be open both for a living but also for people to be able to lighten up over the weekend.”
Jaeger said he was not afraid of the crowds in the compound. “Throughout the week there are gatherings. We guard, walk around with a mask and protective gear, but it does not matter. During the week do not go to work? Do not gather? So at least at the weekend we will have some good feeling.”
Riva Meital, who came from Rosh HaAyin with her mother and daughter, added that “whoever does not want to – will not come. People should earn a decent living.” Meital noted that she took advantage of the Saturday for shopping ahead of the school year and for upgrading the yard because during the week they were unable to make time for it. “I really appreciate the shops they opened. Who will take care of them? Who will support them, the government? The government will not take care of them.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, only about 30% of the stores in the Big shopping center in Carmiel were open today. Some were excluded in advance, such as supermarkets, restaurants, pharmacies and opticians, and others who decided to rebel despite the government ban. No police or inspectors were seen in the area until noon.
Buyers came to the area, though did not flood the complex as a normal van. Most of the workers in the complex come from the Arab and Druze localities around Carmiel, and some did not understand the urgency of opening the stores today, after the stores were closed in recent Saturdays. This is especially so when they, too, are supposed to celebrate Eid al-Adha with their families. Network executives, however, banned them from being interviewed.
Buyers shared that they felt it was time for regular corona restrictions to apply on Saturday as they apply the rest of the week, and not be increased. “The corona is here and it’s not going anywhere,” said Lauren Nahala of the nearby town of Rama. “There are masks, disinfect hands and keep a distance. All these things are meant to keep us going, this plague, it seems, has come to teach us basic rules of cleanliness. If you keep these things, I see no reason to continue to collapse the economy. “Businesses, large and small, that are collapsing. It is no longer possible to return to closure.”
Israel Binnenfeld from Raanana, who is staying at a hotel in Rosh Pina this weekend and went on a trip with his family to the villages and Carmiel, was disappointed with the visit. “If we had known in the first place that business was supposed to be closed on Saturday we might not have come here,” he said. “I do not know whether it is good to open or not, but people must make a living. There is nothing to do.”
Yigal Karlinsky, who came from Haifa to visit his parents in Carmiel, said that he understands the need to open a business. “Personally, I was not harmed by the crisis, but I am sure that if I were one of the victims I would speak differently and support the revolt.”
Shlomi Bogart, owner of the Bogart chain, said the closure of stores on weekends is forcing him to return at least 30% of workers to the Knesset again. “Closing on Saturday is irreversible damage to stores,” Bogart said.
“The corona does not only infect on Saturday, it also infects on weekdays, and the infection rate in stores is 1.2%, so there is no logic here,” he added. “It’s wrong that the whole country is open and only we are closed. We work according to the purple mark, put in the allowed amount, obey instructions, and in the end we are the ones who have to pay the price without any logical justification. Let the government make decisions logically.”
Yaakov Peretz, CEO of the Inter-Jeans Group, estimated that the damage the company will suffer is several hundred thousand shekels every Saturday. “Unsold inventory is money that does not go into the coffers and employees who do not receive salaries,” said Peretz, who decided to open the 14 stores anyway. His who work on Saturday so as not to go back to manpower cuts.
“Once we understand that these are not decisions related to Corona, and that these are political decisions, then I put the concern first to my 550 employees,” Peretz added. “As long as there were health considerations I understood them, but since these are political considerations unrelated to public health, then we put society and employees first. I have made supreme efforts not to fire employees, who will let us and them earn a decent living.”