Coronavirus Cases Traced Back to Synagogues, but Israel Won’t Enforce Regulations

The latest emergency regulations issued by the Israeli Health Ministry to contain the coronavirus outbreak dictate limits to public gatherings, but a police document obtained by Haaretz shows that officers were ordered not to enforce them in synagogues.

This is despite the fact that more than one-third of the coronavirus patients diagnosed over the weekend visited synagogues during the period they were presumably infectious.

Government orders prohibit gatherings of over 10 people, but the police document pus the maximum number of people allowed to pray together at 20.

The government's emergency measures allow Israelis to leave home only in specific cases, including to attend religious ceremonies, but Health Ministry orders strictly prohibit gatherings of over 10 people.

The Israel Police said on Sunday the document obtained by Haaretz was only a draft, stressing that the 20-person clause refers to religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, rather than regular services.

According to the police document, officers were instructed that except for business opening regulations, other measures have not been set as criminal offenses and they are not to strictly enforce them.