Israel: COVID-19 Night Curfew on Purim

February 24, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The Israeli government convened on Tuesday night and approved the Health Ministry’s outline for Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions during the Purim holiday, celebrated from Thursday evening until Sunday, chiefly an overnight curfew.

Ultra Orthodox Jewish students from the Matmidim group celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim in the Ultra Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem. March 13, 2017. Photo by Adi Gefen/TPS

A night lockdown will be in place from 20:30 in the evening until 05:00 in the morning with a distance restriction of 1 kilometer from one’s home, as well as the prohibition on being in another person’s residence.

Restrictions will be imposed on public transportation during these days.

During all hours of the day, mass events are banned, meaning that Purim parades, gatherings, performances will not be held.

Israel exited its third countrywide lockdown a few weeks ago and the morbidity statistics drop daily, but health officials have warned that mass celebrations on Purim could reignite a wave of COVID-19 infections.

Purim is usually celebrated with mass parties, street parades, and dancing events, all of which have been banned this year due to the pandemic.

Last year’s Purim celebrations sent Israel into a wave of infections and a subsequent lockdown on the Passover holiday. The curfew is meant to prevent such an occurrence.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein stated Wednesday that the successful vaccine campaign in the country should “not put us in euphoria. We still do not have enough vaccinated to celebrate without recognition on Purim.”

Borrowing from the holiday’s theme, he noted that “to undo the decree of the evil Haman, the people of Israel exhibited full mutual guarantee and fasted for Esther for three days. I do not ask to fast for three days,” he said. “I just ask that you maintain the guidelines for the sake of the business owners who have just returned, for the culture, the hotels, the education. For our health, our lives. For our children who still cannot get vaccinated.”

“Do not go to parties, not even to [Hassidic] tischs. Celebrate at home,” he asked.

The Ministry of Health updated Tuesday night that it documented 4,764 new COVID-19 cases over the past day.

Of the 70,449 tests done over the weekend, 7% returned positive.

799 of the patients hospitalized with Corona are in serious condition, 263 of them are on life support.

Over 4,531,000 Israelis have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, some 48.9% of the population.

5,634 Israelis have died of the virus.

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