Israel announces curfew over Purim holiday

By: AFP      Published: 03:06 AM, 24 Feb, 2021
Israel announces curfew over Purim holiday

Israel will impose a night-time curfew for three nights from Thursday evening to curb the spread of the coronavirus during the Jewish holiday of Purim, the government said.

The curfew, from 8:30 pm to 5:00 am daily (1830 GMT to 0300 GMT), will be in force from Thursday night until Sunday morning, a joint statement from the prime minister's office and the health ministry said. 

Gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people in closed spaces and 20 people in open spaces, the statement added.

Sometimes dubbed the "fun" Jewish holiday, Purim typically includes costumes and boisterous public celebrations marking a story dating from fourth-century Persia that saw Jews defeat a murderous plot against them.

For many it also involves services in synagogues and shared meals. The holiday will be celebrated Thursday night and Friday.

Last year, gatherings for Purim were banned, but many ultra-Orthodox defied the restrictions, which authorities said contributed to the spread of the virus.

Israel has officially recorded more than 757,000 novel coronavirus cases and over 5,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The government has begun gradually easing restrictions in place since December when it imposed its third lockdown. The Jewish state has administered the two recommended shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to more than three million people, roughly a third of its population.