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The Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee voted Monday afternoon to permit the reopening of gyms and public swimming pools, nullifying government restrictions and rejecting recommendations by the Prime Minister and Health Minister.

The committee, led by Chairwoman Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud), voted to lift the ban on operating swimming pools and gyms, which had been put in place by the government last week.

The decision divided the Likud, drawing an angry response from coalition chairman Miki Zohar, who slammed Shasha-Biton for endorsing the decision to reopen pools and gyms, and threatened to have her removed from her position.

“I’m removing you from the position, you won’t remain committee chair,” said Zohar.

Shasha-Biton responded, saying “You’ll learn how to behave here.”

The committee voted to lift the restrictions despite a plan pushed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein to permit only the reopening of outdoor pools, which would be subjected to enhanced supervision to ensure social distancing is maintained. Indoor pools and gyms would remain closed, under the Prime Minister’s plan.

“Unrelated to the content of the Coronavirus Committee’s decisions today, it shows that one, the Knesset is not a rubberstamp for the government; two, it is better to convince Knesset committees with data rather than through threats and pressure; and three, dismissing the committee chairwoman is the wrong thing to do,” said MK Gideon Sa’ar (Likud).

Earlier on Monday, Shasha-Biton told Ma’ariv that she would personally “take responsibility for the opening of pools and gyms”.

Her comments sparked an internal debate within the Likud, with Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch threatening to have Shasha-Biton replaced as committee chair.

“If she won’t toe the line with the government’s decisions, we’ll replace her,” Kisch said.

On Monday, Kisch blasted plans to permit pools and gyms to operate, warning it could lead to a second nationwide lockdown.

"I am telling the Coronavirus Committee: You can ask questions and you can cancel the restrictions, but if we are under lockdown in another two weeks, the responsibility [for that] will belong to those who did not allow us to stop gatherings today."

"The reason we closed the pools is that people gather waiting in line at the entrance, waiting in line for the bathrooms, waiting in line at the snack bar. Pools have a strong lobby and I applaud them for fighting. The reason pools in hotels were not closed is due to financial considerations."

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