During a Zoom discussion held last Friday, government officials reaffirmed their decision not to entirely ban all events held in halls, despite the recent sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19.
The decision to allow halls to continue to function has been taken largely due to the fact that banning events from such venues led in the past to the transferring of the events to ad hoc locations where conditions were even more conducive to the spread of disease.
The government discussion was headed by Economy Minister Orna Barbivay (Yesh Atid) and also attending were Dr. Sharon Alray-Price, head of Public Health Services in the Health Ministry, representatives of the National Security Council, the Treasury, and the Prime Minister’s Office, and the head of the Events Halls Association and the Association of Mehadrin Halls.
All those participating in the discussion agreed that closing events halls entirely was not an option, due to past experience which showed that banning events in halls simply caused the events to “go underground” which spelled a total loss of control of the situation on the part of the government. “These alternative venues operated without any supervision whatsoever, and became hothouses of contagion on a huge scale,” one participant stated.
Instead, the government has decided to restrict occupancy of events halls to 75% of full capacity (as detailed on the hall’s license certificate), with an upper limit of 500 participants. The Health Ministry had been pushing for a 300-person limit, but representatives of the various events halls associations as well as senior government officials opposed cutting the numbers to such an extent.
The final vote on the decision will be taken in coming days by the cabinet, but in any event, the restrictions are unlikely to impact the holding of weddings in halls.
In addition, it is important to note that whereas official events halls now will likely have a ceiling of 500 attendees, “ad hoc” halls are only permitted to allow 50 people to enter at any one time, or 100 if the venue is out-of-doors.