According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, the government approved the outline of a plan to reopen cultural events in Israel in the near future. The plan restricts all cultural events to being held outside and applies to concerts, theatrical shows, and other performances. The performances may begin taking place immediately.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein spoke about why the plan was approved. “Culture is important to the mental health and well-being of the public. It is equally as important to follow the [Health Ministry] guidelines with extreme care. Preserving culture depends on each and every one of us.”
The plan delineates that attendees of the cultural events will need to sit in capsules of up to 20 people and that as many as 500 people will be allowed to attend any single event. Events requesting more attendees will need to apply for additional permits from the Health Ministry.
Additional conditions that will be enforced for each event include: Capsules will be divided by partitions that cannot be circumvented. The capsules will be no less than two meters apart. Audience members must sit on chairs and an empty chair must be placed between each unrelated person; ushers will not walk around; and dancing or approaching the stage will be prohibited. There must be one toilet for every 50 people and the toilets have to be cleaned at least once an hour. Performers cannot approach the audience. The stage and the audience must be a minimum of six meters apart. Ticket sales must be done online and people have to sit in predetermined places. Entry into events will be tiered and determined in advance. The complex must have at least two manned entrances and staff should monitor them to prevent crowding. Seating will be marked to allow for quick monitoring, as necessary. No intermissions will be permitted. Food can only be sold as take-away with orders made in advance by phone or online; waiters will deliver it to prevent crowding. Hand-washing stations with soap and towels, as well as hand sanitizer, will be readily available. The production staff will remind the audience to observe the Health Ministry’s directives and signage will do the same. Relevant equipment, such as microphones and sound sets, will be disinfected between performances. A coronavirus commissioner must be appointed to ensure that all rules are followed.
In spite of the new plan, hundreds of high-profile members of the arts community in Israel protested the agreement outside of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. Protesters claimed that the plan will kill the culture of Israel because the lifeblood of cultural events take place indoors and without the indoor spaces being available, many artists will lose their performance spaces and jobs permanently.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)