United Synagogue shuls in Tier 4 to lower capacity further as coronavirus cases increase rapidly

As of yesterday, 60 per cent of US communities have decided to close 


The United Synagogue has issued further guidance to community leaders of synagogues in Tier 4 areas requiring them to lower the number of people they can accommodate by at least a further 25 per cent to aid social distancing. 

As of yesterday, around 60 per cent of the US’s communities had opted to close their shuls, including Belmont, Bushey and Cockfosters – despite places of worship being allowed to remain open at any level of the coronavirus restrictions. 

As well as the reduction in those permitted to attend services, US synagogues may have to stop services which include simchas if guests do not adhere to current protocols and “if necessary” ask them to leave.  

Families celebrating will have to confirm in advance that they understand the policies and would explain them to their guests. 

In an email to rabbis, rebbetzins and shul chairs, US chief executive Steven Wilson and chair of the rabbinical council Rabbi Nicky Liss noted the “emergence of new virus strains”, and that they were “particularly conscious of the very serious pressure on the NHS and front line medical and nursing staff, as well as our role in keeping people safe.” 

They also suggested that services be moved outside, even during the winter, and re-emphasised the need to stagger arrivals and departures from synagogues. 

As of December 26, a large swathe of England had been placed in Tier 4 – a new, higher tier of coronavirus restrictions akin to those in place during the nationwide lockdown in November.  

Under this newly-formed tier, all non-essential shops and hospitality venues must close, and people are advised not to travel in and out of such areas. 

Currently, London and the South East fall under these restrictions. This is due to be reviewed by the government today. 

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