I hope this finds you and yours in the best of health!
In light of the uncertainty that we are all, globally, living with nowadays, due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19), and in light of questions that have come up, I wanted to give a quick update regarding the coming season at Tell es-Safi/Gath (June 28-July 24, 2020).
As of now, I don’t have a definite answer whether or not the season will be conducted as planned. This is of course dependent on what happens in the world, and in Israel, with the possible continued spread of the virus, and related travel restrictions, quarantines, etc.
The Bar-Ilan University management cannot at this point provide a clear yes or no answer on whether or not the excavation will be OKed, and whether foreign team members will be allowed to enter Israel and/or participate in the excavations. I was told that there is a constant daily update, on a university and a national level, regarding various activities related to the university. Needless to say, the season will be conducted only if it is authorized by all the relevant university and national authorities.
The health and safety of all the Safi team members is my top priority, so the season will only be conducted if there are no health hazards involved!
I was told that in all likelihood, a final answer, whether or not the season will be OKed, will not be provided before mid-April. There are simply too many unknowns at this stage to be able to decide.
Thus, as far as the team is concerned:
1) If you have not yet bought your tickets, don’t do this yet, unless you can get tickets that can be refunded until late April/early May.
2) If you have paid for the excavation, and it is cancelled, your payment will be fully refunded (save for the $50 registration fee). This is true in any case, until May 1st, and due to the unique situation that we are in this year, it will be extended to June 1st, 2020.
I will continue updating you with any new information that I will receive.
I do hope that the Corona virus will be contained in the very near future, both for the general health and well-being of humanity world over, and also so that we can conduct the 2020 season as planned!
All the best and stay safe and healthy,