Political Rallies, Yes; Chassunahs, No

YERUSHALAYIM -
An election billboard with a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu alongside three of his rivals. (Olivier Fitoussil/Flash90)

The government approved on Tuesday night the staging of large campaign rallies despite concerns over coronavirus infection while leaving wedding halls closed.

Ministers on Monday voted to allow election events of up to 300 people indoors and 500 outdoors, providing participants have been vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus.

The decision comes three weeks before Israelis head to the polls on March 23 for the country’s fourth national vote in two years.

According to the new rules, the rally space cannot be more than 75 percent full and social distancing must be maintained. All participants will have to be seated and masked, with and intervening space of either 6 feet or a single empty seat between them, except for family members.

The decision comes just in time for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s expected appearance at the Likud party’s first large-scale event in Petah Tikva on Thursday.

Additionally, security staff will need to be provided at a ratio of one to every 50 participants and the sale of any food or drink other than mineral water will be prohibited, The Marker reported.

“It is very unfortunate that while thousands of brides and grooms are biting their nails in uncertainty and waiting in vain for the event halls to open under regulations, the Likud party is making regulations for election conferences with hundreds of participants,” commented MK Yaakov Asher of United Torah Judaism.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party said it would “not take advantage of the loophole” to hold a political event that could “endanger public health.”

Gideon Saar’s New Hope party said it would not hold any events “this week,” but would consider it in the future if public health could be maintained.