LAKEWOOD (VINnews) — The following letter signed by prominent Lakewood poskim was sent out in light of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic:
3rd day of Chol Hamoed 5780
We are living in troubled times, faced with the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in our country and throughout the world. To our sorrow, our communities have seen thousands take ill, both young and old, and the hundreds of deaths, lo aleinu, from the pandemic.
Medical direction as to how to deal with this pandemic has been evolving as new research and information develops. Leading experts believe it possible that someone who was sick with Coronavirus might still be able to infect others long after the person recovers. The top medical experts are unsure if one who is fully recovered develops immunity, or whether they might be at risk of repeated infection. The newest data indicates that it is possible that a percentage of those who were ill and recovered, might be at risk of reinfection.
Our local hospitals are facing shortages of staff and materials, and do not have enough beds, which may have drastic effects on patients.
Our community has risen to the challenge and adopted appropriate precautions. Bezras Hashem Yisborach, who is the true Rofeh Cholim, we have seen a slowing of the growth rate in those becoming sick. Experts agree that this is attributable to the precautions we have taken, if not for which we could have seen unimaginable catastrophe. In the coming weeks, it is necessary for us to double down on precautions in order to see continued improvement in public health. We cannot afford any relaxation in precautions in any way until such time that we are sure it is totally safe.
In light of this, we are issuing our clear rulings for all members of our community without exception. Pikuach Nefesh requires all to adopt appropriate precautions and to follow the advice of the health authorities.
For all of Lakewood and surrounding communities until further notice.
Stores may only be opened when allowed by the authorities. All workers and customers must abide by strict State of New Jersey guidelines as to social distancing etc. If you are infectious or suspect that you are you may not shop in stores.
You may not visit family or friends, even within Lakewood, unless under the direct and specific advice of a qualified medical professional. This applies to old and young, to those who are healthy, ill, or recovered. One may not travel to spend Shabbos or Yom tov, whether in Lakewood or in other communities.
Children from one household may not play with children from a different household, even if both households were or are infected.
Minyanim are prohibited and you are not allowed to participate in a minyan in any way. This includes, but is not limited to, minyanim in courtyards, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, or on porches. While originally some porch minyanim may have been approved by some Rabbanim under very specific criteria from health experts, experience has shown that they lead to serious Aiva, and other major problems and therefore those approvals are no longer valid. This issur is in effect until we provide new guidance which we hope to do once, in our opinion, the situation improves. Until then all minyanim in any form are prohibited. Reports of oral guidance that may differ from the above should be disregarded.