Purim poses a challenge for the country, as it is a holiday centered on large gatherings with food. But this year, the Health Ministry is asking citizens to celebrate with their nuclear families alone.
"Last Purim, there was a dangerous outbreak that infected very many, and you remember that we had to close down the country,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday evening during a briefing. “This cannot recur. This Purim, on the contrary, we are all commanded to keep the rules. We can rejoice; we can put on costumes – but we must follow the rules. This is incredibly important because we really are on the verge of exiting from the pandemic.”
For three days - from Thursday until Saturday - a night curfew will be imposed throughout the country. Police will set up hundreds of roadblocks and step up enforcement.
The government is weighing how to handle Sunday, Shushan Purim, when celebrations are expected to take place even during the day. It is possible that the night curfew will be extended to include Sunday night in Jerusalem or that inter- and inner-city transportation will be significantly reduced.
“In light of the need to continue to reduce infection, and to continue the country’s successful vaccine campaign, we call on the public to maintain the regulations during the holiday,” the Health Ministry said in a statement, urging citizens to “fully follow the instructions.”
Here is what you can and cannot do:
> 10 people in a closed area - permitted
> 20 people in an open area - permitted
> Any larger gathering - forbidden
A party or mass gathering that exceeds the limits in a private area or in a business is subject to an NIS 5,000 to NIS 10,000 fine
Business and Shopping:> Retail - As usual before 8:30 p.m. under the Purple Ribbon standards
> Green passport activities - As usual before 8:30 p.m.
Green passport activities and locations currently include gyms, theaters, hotels, concerts and synagogues that have been registered to operate according to the guidelines.
Night curfew:Thursday | Friday | Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.
> Travel more than 1,000 meters from homes for any reason not considered essential - forbidden
> Staying or visiting another person’s home - forbidden
> Operating a public-facing business that is not considered essential - forbidden
> Parties - forbidden (at night and during the day)
People who break these rules are subject to fines of up to NIS 500.
The rules do not apply in neighborhoods where the residents are largely not Jewish, such as in east Jerusalem.
> Operate as usual - 10 people inside, 20 outside
> Exception: Synagogues registered with their local municipalities as “green passport” locations can follow the green passport regulations over the holiday, allowing up to 50% capacity or 300 people over the age of 16 who have been double vaccinated to come and pray.
During the night curfew, people can pray in open spaces or synagogues up to 1,000 meters from their homes. It is best to hear the Book of Esther before 8:30 p.m.
> The public is being asked to hold their Purim meals with their nuclear families and within the confines of the regulations. At night, it is forbidden to gather in someone else’s home.
> Festive vehicles that are meant to spread joy throughout the holiday can travel within their local authorities so long as their presence does not lead to unsafe gathering.