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Re: What does Israel/Local Authorities say about DC20?

Hi there,

As a member of the local DC20 team, I thought I might weight in on where we stand.

On 22/05/2020 19:43, Sam Hartman wrote:
[I hope someone on the DebConf team side is willing to summarize the
results of this discussion to debian-vote]

I've read the debian-vote discussion, and I wanted to make sure our voice is heard. Not because I think our opinion is drastically different than opinions already voiced, but because I get the feeling some people think it might be.

I'm speaking for myself here, but the matter was, in fact, discussed, both inside the local team and with the rest of the organizers.

First, the situation in Israel: The ministry of Health has a Telegram channel where they publish, twice a day, statistics about the pandemic. These include, among other things, the number of tests done, number of people tested positive, and the number of people who have recovered from the disease. Due to my own background health issues, I follow those numbers closely. The information posted on the conference Wiki's FAQ was produced by me, and I have been producing this graph for almost two months now. I have also been socially isolating for two weeks by the time that was the official instruction.

Please rest assured: if it will not be safe to attend the conference, *I* will not attend it, despite helping to organize it. I will also not want to have a conference in Israel and not attend it (I am a DD for over a decade and have not been able to attend a single conference so far). As such, if the conference is likely to not be able to move forward, or not be able to do so safely, I'll be first in line to call for its postponement.

As of now, the Pandemic seems to be under control in Israel. Maybe due to the weekend the MoH has not released numbers tonight, but over the past three nights before daily new infections were 16, 6 and 18. 98 new infections over the whole last week. If you'll look at the graph posted at the Wiki FAQ[1], the downward trend is clearly visible.

1: https://wiki.debian.org/DebConf/20/Faq

Now these numbers might change. At the beginning of the week (Israel work week is Sunday-Thursday) schools came back into almost normal operating mode. This means that a completely plausible scenario is that infection rate will start to rise again. We will know that to a fairly high degree of certainty two weeks after that, or about a week from today.

There was a question about reaching out to the authorities. Our main contacts were with the Ministry of Interior, in charge of handling Visa requests, and not the Ministry of Health. We did reach out to them, and so far have not heard back. It seems that the "preparing an international conference" handbook completely neglected to mention the possibility of a global pandemic, and we did not prepare MoH contacts. A few unofficial talks I've had leads me to conclude what I would have guessed anyways: No one who knows anything about this virus is willing to predict anything three months ahead.

Some people mentioned a quarantine requirement. At least as far as I, personally, see the conference planning, I see no difference between not allowing residents of a certain country into Israel and requiring a two weeks quarantine. If we foresee that to remain the requirement, I would consider an international conference to be impossible.

Which leads us where the local team stands on this issue. The consensus with the local team is that our decision of choice *at this point in time* is to postpone the conference, and accordingly also the 2021 and 2022 conferences, by one year. Obviously, this is a solution that requires a buy in from the general Debian leadership, as well as from the local teams for those years.

While this is the consensus, there is really no point in making a final call on the matter before the absolute deadline arrives. It is much easier to cancel late than to restart a conference once it is cancelled. New infections reactions to re-opening the schools is one example of datum that will be available to us in two weeks, but is not available now.

So we hold off with making a final call. I understand that, from the outside, this might look like we are trying to push forward with organizing a conference that simply cannot come to pass. This long email was my humble attempt at trying to convince you that is not the way things are.

So I would like to add my voice to what Jonathan and others have said:

Martin and everyone else: Please wait with putting up a GR asking to override our judgement call until _after_ we've actually made that call.

Thank you,


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