11 new coronavirus deaths take toll to 633; 1,819 cases diagnosed in 24 hours
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11 new coronavirus deaths take toll to 633; 1,819 cases diagnosed in 24 hours

Government permits cultural performances at outdoor venues under certain conditions, but artists reject highly limiting terms as nonviable

Workers from the culture and art industry protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in jerusalem, on August 11, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Workers from the culture and art industry protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in jerusalem, on August 11, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Health Ministry figures released Wednesday morning showed 11 new deaths from coronavirus, taking the national death toll to 633.

Meanwhile infection numbers showed 1,819 new cases had been confirmed over a 24-hour period since Tuesday morning.

Of the 24,963 active cases, 379 were in serious condition with 109 on ventilators. Among the rest of the patients, 160 had moderate symptoms and the rest light or no symptoms.

Since the beginning of the virus outbreak earlier this year there have been a total of 87,173 cases in Israel, according to ministry figures, while 61,577 people have recovered.

The figures came hours after the government on Tuesday evening approved a framework for permitting shows and performances to be held in outdoor spaces.

The culture and art sectors have been among the hardest hit by restrictions imposed to curb the virus spread. Large gatherings, particularly in closed spaces, are still banned, keeping theaters, concert halls and other venues shuttered and leaving artists, producers and support staff out of work.

Workers from the culture and art industry protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, on August 11, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Artists and those from the performance industry rejected the new framework as being unrealistic. Hundreds of artists and other culture sector workers demonstrated on Tuesday outside the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem demanding that shows in enclosed venues also be permitted. Those from the cultural sector have also demanded that the government provide them greater assistance during the virus outbreak, as it has forbidden them from working in their profession.

Under the terms approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, outdoor shows can begin immediately but must keep to strict rules of seating the audience in “capsules” of no more than 20 people each, with barriers preventing movement between the capsules.

Shows of up to 500 people require a permit from the Culture and Sports Ministry director-general, and those with a larger audience will require additional approval from the Health Ministry director-general.

Each capsule will have marked seating with an empty seat between each participant, except for people who live together. Dancing or approaching the stage is banned and performers are prohibited from descending into the audience. There must be at least three meters between the stage and the audience and no intermissions are permitted.

Under the terms of the approved framework, tickets will only be sold online and windows of entry for events will be printed on tickets, with each capsule scheduled to enter at a specific time. Venues must have at least two different entrances and stewards will be required to ensure that participants maintain social distancing while waiting in line.

In addition, patrons will have their temperatures taken at the entrance; there must be strict adherence to hygiene and disinfection guidelines; a steward will be stationed at the entrance to each toilet facility.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein holds a press conference during a visit at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, on July 15, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Culture is important for public mental health,” Edelstein said in a statement. Urging the public to adhere to ministry hygiene and social distancing guidelines, Edelstein said “preserving cultural [life] depends on each and every one of us.”

Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper said: “We are continuing to bring culture [events] back into our lives and to bring culture back to life.”

Tropper said efforts would continue to establish a framework enabling culture events to be held in enclosed venues as well.

Shaham, the Israeli Actors Guild, said in a statement the proposed framework for outdoor shows “is not realistic and not applicable. It is a framework that has one implication — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is killing off culture in Israel.

“We are demanding a single framework for everyone — for malls, the supermarket, for event halls and theaters, for cinemas, for shows and outdoor performances,” Shaham said.

Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper, right, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz as they speak to the media outside Gantz’s home, during a protest of workers from the culture and art industry in Rosh Ha’ayin, on August 9, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Fresh restrictions went into effect Tuesday morning that continue to cap gatherings at 20 people outdoors and 10 indoors, limit cars to three (non family) passengers at a time, and limit businesses to one customer on the premises for every seven square meters (75 square feet) of space.

Businesses will be prohibited from serving customers who are not wearing masks, must take the temperature of those who ask to enter the premises, and must post signs detailing appropriate behavior.

Shared eating spaces in open-air markets and in shopping malls will be closed. Deliveries must be left outside recipients’ doors.

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