The government approved the reopening of synagogues following the COVID-19 shutdown Tuesday night, dependent on several restrictions. Up to 50 people will be allowed in one prayer hall, and they will need to ensure a space of two meters between worshipers, wear a mask and be stringent about hygiene standards. Synagogues will also need to appoint an official to guarantee worshipers are abiding by the guidelines. The decision was taken following a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Interior Minister Arye Deri, and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben Shabbat.Chief Rabbi David Lau, who earlier in the day called on Netanyahu to allow synagogues to reopen welcomed the decision to reopen synagogues, saying it was a “responsible” step.He also called on the public to “strictly comply” with the directives for synagogue prayer in order to prevent a spike in infections and a need to close synagogues once again.Earlier on Tuesday, Lau noted that many aspects of life are now beginning to return to normality following the easing of the social-distancing restrictions, and argued that prayer in synagogues was an important part of many people’s lives. “Communal prayer has an important place in Jewish life. During the lockdown I issued lenient instructions on communal prayer because of the situation, and the public cooperated with these instructions,” wrote the chief rabbi. He said however that the reopening of shopping centers, restaurants and other businesses, while synagogues remain shuttered “has aroused astonishment” among those who pray frequently. Synagogues, wrote Lau, “are places where a person can pour out his deepest feelings and prayers and connect with God.”He added that the Jewish people “do not have a union or association” to hear their pain over not being allowed to pray in synagogue, “and their voice is unfortunately not being heard.”Concluded Lau “Clear instructions must be issued as soon as possible to return the community of those who pray to synagogues, and the sooner the better."On March 24, data emerged showing that a quarter of all COVID-19 infections in the country by mid-March had been contracted in synagogues, while another 5% of cases were contracted in yeshivas.Prayer in synagogues was banned on March 25 by the chief rabbis after several calls to do so, although they continued to permit prayer services with 10 men to continue outdoors until March 31, when the Health Ministry banned that as well.