Israel’s banquet hall owners revolt, threaten to reopen without approval

Event hall owners say the government abandoned 100,000 workers for the past five months and they will defy the rules unless serious financial aid comes.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Banquet hall owners sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, informing him they intend to return to activity next week with or without the government’s approval, Kan Radio reported.

The letter from the Israel Association of Event Hall Owners was headlined, “The collapse of the event halls industry.” The owners are pressuring the Knesset’s Finance Committee that is meeting Tuesday to decide on the economic compensation for different industries that have been severely impacted by the coronavirus economic crisis.

“Now, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the industry’s 100,000 workers from being thrown below the poverty line, the association has announced its intention to return to activity, allowing young couples to marry while demanding the prime minister’s intervention,” the letter read.

There are normally thousands of weddings that take place in the summer, but changing government restrictions have prevented large weddings and forced postponements and cancellations.

With the second wave of infections wreaking havoc, the government earlier this month limited indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 20. Banquet Halls that had been reopened for a short time and allowed to hold events with up to 250 people were ordered closed again.

At the time, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said: “The celebrations in the halls have become a source of contagion.”

“We need to take care of over 100,000 employees, we are no longer able to bear the heavy burden,” said association chairman Noam Levy. The hall owners had to honor their commitments to couples who had paid deposits when they booked weddings, he added.

“If the prime minister does not intervene and provide a solution for more than 100,000 people, we will open the banquet halls.”

“It gives us a livelihood and is a solution for couples who have reserved events with us,” Levy said. “Given the [low] compensation the government wants to give us, we have no other solution but to take care of ourselves. It can’t go on like this. For five months people have not received a shekel and there are no answers for anyone.”

Levy slammed the government for “abandoning many industries and one of them is us,” saying that in other countries, “at least the monetary compensation is reasonable, allowing for a return [to work].”