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Shul kiddushes will be stopped, Barnet Council warns

Police last weekend imposed a dispersal zone on part of Golders Green to prevent social distancing breaches

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Communal kiddushes and other Shabbat celebrations in synagogue are likely to be broken up in the current climate, Barnet Council has made clear. 

According to government guidelines, food and drink are permitted only if “essential” to an act of worship. 

At least one synagogue in the borough had been planning last week to hold a seudah shlishit, the traditional third Shabbat meal, which often takes place in Orthodox communities immediately between the afternoon and evening services in winter. 

Police in Stamford Hill the previous week are understood to have dispersed a gathering at a synagogue for a melaveh malka, a post-Shabbat celebration. 

Declan Khan, head of Barnet’s counter fraud and enforcement operations, said that such assemblies were “liable to be dispersed” as they were not part of the services themselves. 

Last week police imposed a 48-hour dispersal zone – giving them additional powers to break up gatherings – in part of Golders Green after going to a synagogue which, they said, had too many worshippers. 

It was the first Covid-related dispersal order Mr Khan could recall in the borough. 

But he predicted “we might see more dispersal orders being made as there are more people flouting the rules”. 

While there remain no caps on the number of people who can attend a place of worship for services, congregations are required to carry out a risk assessment on the building with numbers subject to factors such as its, size, ventilation and capacity for social distancing. Worshippers must wear masks. 

In the present phase of the pandemic, he said, “we need to stick as tightly to the rules as we can. The infection rate is so high, coupled with the fact that we have more variant strains of the virus. It’s quite a dire situation out there.” 

Mr Khan himself has visited a number of synagogues while out on patrol in the borough to help enforce social distancing. 

But he stressed the role was “not necessarily to enforce at the first visit but to give the right guidance. We are there to help, not to close places down. The intention is not to close everything down but to make Barnet a safe place for everybody to operate.” 

 

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