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Mar 23, 2020

DST goes into quarantine because of CoronaVirus

There was a lot of fallout from COVID-19 yesterday.

One of the bigger victims, perhaps the biggest, was Daylight Savings Time. Or maybe I should say, potential victims, as it is unclear what exactly will happen.

The government has decided that if some farmer in Itamar is not going to be able to force them to push Pesach off by an entire month, the government will at least delay Daylight Savings Time by a month.

DST was set to go into effect in Israel this Thursday night (Friday morning), moving the clock from 2am to 3am. That would instantly make sunrise an hour "later", and sunset as well. The benefits and detriments notwithstanding, Israel has for the past decade or so had DST dates set in law rather than the annual horse trading over it, and DST has since always been set to start before Pesach.

The government decided that DST would give more opportunity for people to break the rules of social distancing in the evenings, which would remain sunlit later, and that goes against what the government is trying to accomplish with the partial lockdown to help contain the COVID-19 virus.

So the government debated it, Aryeh Deri, Minister of Interior pushed for it, and it was decided to approve it. The problem is that there is no legal government, so there is no real way to do this. It went to the Attorney General, and he approved it, setting in motion the actual change of DST to May 1. That means Pesach will not have a late evening start and we'll all be able to start our seder by 7pm or so.

This all happened late yesterday.

This morning we woke up to the news that officials in various state institutions are claiming that they are not going to be able to put this into effect, and it will create chaos. According to what they are saying, the DST has been put in place and is part of the systems all set to take effect this week, in just a few days. It is in the computers and cellphones and websites and servers and businesses and hospitals and all sorts of machinery all over the country is designed to run with the DST date as part of its systems. Changing it now does not give them enough time to make all the necessary changes, and come Friday morning we will see chaos and some things get changed properly and others do not. Reminds me of Y2K, but we'll see if this affects the decision or if they move ahead with it anyway.

I also saw last night that some Haredi leaders were protesting the change saying that calendars were already printed taking DST into effect and changing it now will create chaos in the communities with some people knowing what happened and adjusting accordingly and others going according to the printed luach and not realizing it was changed and doing things on the wrong times.

Whatever ends up happening, and I suspect that DST will remain switched to May and they will overcome these obstacles, I do not really see much of a difference. We are all in partial lockdown anyway - does it really matter if sunrise and sunset is an hour earlier or an hour later? We have nowhere to go and nothing really important to do anyway.I dont think this is something to get worked up about.

DST is officially going into effect on schedule, this Thursday night - Friday morning at 2am. Too many government offices said it is too late for such a change and it cannot happen.

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