Few, if any, national economies escaped 2020 with a clean bill of health, and Israel was no exception. As per the Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s economy contracted by 2.4% across the year, the most severe decline since the state was established in 1948. It is a testament to the unprecedented nature of the past year that Israel’s performance can be considered a relative success story – the average across the OECD countries was a 5.5% decline.
Though economically speaking Israel has fared comparatively well, more generally the region’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is a mixed story. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, Israel was still being overseen by a caretaker government following the inconclusive result of the legislative election in March 2020. A state of emergency was declared and legally enforceable restrictions were introduced, preventing citizens from leaving their homes except for a short list of specified reasons. To ease the economic strain, the government introduced a $22bn economic rescue package to bolster the healthcare system, assist the unemployed and support struggling businesses. These restrictions proved largely effective and by the end of May most restrictions had been lifted, allowing most Israelis to enjoy a relatively free early summer.