Western Wall rabbi okays prayers, bans kissing stones due to coronavirus

As a result of Health Ministry regulations banning gatherings of over 10 people, many places of worship around the country such as synagogues have closed their doors.

Shacharit morning services at the Western Wall. (photo credit: THE WESTERN WALL HERITAGE FOUNDATION)
Shacharit morning services at the Western Wall.
In light of the ever worsening coronavirus outbreak, ongoing activities will still be allowed to go ahead at the Western Wall, provided they comply with the Health Ministry's regulations.
The coronavirus outbreak has infected over 250 people in Israel at the time of writing, and Health Ministry regulations have banned gatherings of over 10 people as a means of stemming its continued spread.
As a result of these regulations, many places of worship such as synagogues around the country have closed their doors. However, there was a question regarding what would happen to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism, as there are typically hundreds of people gathered together there throughout the day for daily prayers, as well as for bar mitzvahs. In addition, it also is known that worshipers kiss the wall's stones, which could present a serious transmission risk.
However, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, in conjunction with the Health Ministry, ruled that it was permissible for worshipers to continue coming to the Western Wall, provided there is proper distance maintained between groups. This is exactly what happened today, according to a statement issued by Rabinowitz, with hundreds of worshipers maintaining proper distance from each other when they flocked to the Western Wall for sunrise prayers.
Bar mitzvah events, which the statement says number in the dozens today, are also going ahead, but the number of participants have been significantly limited by the families.
Most importantly, however, is the ruling made regarding kissing the stones – or the mezuzahs on doors – don't do it.