Bennett Proposes Restrictions for Indoor Events Amid COVID Surge in Israel

Ido Efrati
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference on the coronavirus crisis, Wednesday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a press conference on the coronavirus crisis, Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The government announced Thursday a proposal that would let Israelis who have vaccinated against COVID-19, have recovered, or have received a recent negative test result attend large indoor events.

The plan, which still requires approval by the ministerial committee on the coronavirus crisis, was announced by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, and would go into effect on Wednesday.

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A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said the proposal would apply to indoor events with more than 100 people, such as weddings and other celebrations, concerts, parties and conferences. The crowd size would not be limited, but all participants would be required to wear masks, apart from when they are drinking or eating. The plan also calls for greater enforcement of the existing regulations at such events.

Bennett said that without the plan, “weddings will be held … without any oversight.” The government’s aim, according to him, “is to define how they can still be held in the era of the pandemic, with minimum damage to businesses and maximum protection for citizens.”

Barbivai said direct dialogue between officials and business owners would lead to creative solutions “that will allow the government to make decisions allowing work and quality of life alongside the coronavirus.” Horowitz meanwhile said that the proposal “will let all of us live alongside the coronavirus, [and] to allow the events sector to keep functioning without endangering those celebrating.”

Israel meanwhile recorded yet another four-month high in daily coronavirus infections, with 765 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Health Ministry data shows, as the delta variant continues to spread across the country. There were 54 people in serious condition as of Thursday morning, and 5,372 active cases.

While new daily cases have spiked and serious cases have risen over the past month, the daily increase in infections is still lower than the Health Ministry’s forecast from roughly two weeks ago, which anticipated that Israel would face 600 new coronavirus cases a day within a week, and 1,000 a day in 10 days.

The delta variant of the virus, which originated in India, is more than twice as contagious as the initial strain and has become the dominant strain of the virus in Israel.

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