Rivlin said seeking ways to help virus rule-breakers avoid fines

With many restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus now being eased, President Reuven Rivlin is reportedly looking into ways to lower or even dismiss fines handed out to people for violating the rules, according to a Thursday report.

Some 55,000 citations have been handed out in the last several weeks, for infractions including not wearing a mask or being more than 100 meters from home to breaking quarantine or isolation orders.

The fines range from NIS 200 to NIS 5,000 ($57-$1,440).

According to the Channel 12 news, several people have turned to Rivlin for help in getting the fines dismissed, leading his office to seek possible ways to help people get out of paying.

Among the options under discussion is the creation of a mechanism that would allow the police and Justice Ministry to set clear criteria for ways people could lower the amount they have to pay or have the tickets dismissed altogether.

In theory, Rivlin could also pardon the fines.

According to the police, fines can be handed out for “violations related to quarantine and reporting requirements; disobeying instructions to disperse a forbidden assembly; violations related to operating businesses or shops; going out into the public space in a prohibited manner, in contravention of regulations; loitering in the public space in a prohibited location; prayer in contravention of regulations; violations related to the requirement to wear or carry a face mask; and additional prohibitions set out in regulations.”

New guidelines approved by the government this week slap a NIS 200 fine on anyone over the age of 7 caught without a face mask when in public, including first-time offenders, who previously got away with a warning.

Under the rule, masks covering the mouth and nose must be worn “anywhere outside the residence.” Business owners must also deny entry and service to customers who are not wearing masks.

The rule, however, does not apply to people with emotional, mental or medical conditions that would prevent them from wearing a mask; drivers in their cars; people alone in a building; and two workers who work regularly together, provided they maintain social distancing.

Additionally, police said Thursday that over 200 criminal cases have been opened “related to quarantine violations, violating a lawful instruction and spreading the virus,” and some 150 businesses have been shuttered “for violation of the regulations.”

A nationwide curfew ended Wednesday evening as Israel’s 72nd Independence Day came to a close, with further restrictions aimed at halting the spread of the coronavirus set to be eased in the coming days.

Restrictions on physical exercise outdoors were partly lifted Thursday morning, with sports enthusiasts no longer limited to a distance of 500 meters from home, in accordance with a cabinet decision earlier this week.

Group sports are still prohibited.

The restriction preventing citizens from going more than 100 meters from their homes except for specified activities (work, shopping, sports, etc.) is still in effect. However, it will likely be removed early next week, as police have said they cannot enforce it with so many other restrictions eased.

Swimming in the sea and visiting beaches is still prohibited.

Outdoor markets could also open next week, subject to social distancing limitations.

Header: President Reuven Rivlin meeting with small business owners hit by the coronavirus crisis, at his residence in Jerusalem, April 19, 2020. (Avi Kanner/GPO)

Original: TOI Staff

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