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COVID-19: Huge Hudson Valley Gathering Prompts Health Department Warning

Thousands gathered in Kiryas Joel in violation of the state's COVID-19 regulations. Photo Credit: @HQSatmar
Thousands gathered in Kiryas Joel in violation of the state's COVID-19 regulations. Photo Credit: @HQSatmar

A mass religious gathering in the Hudson Valley in which thousands congregated, most without wearing masks or socially distancing, has prompted action from health officials amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Photos circulated on social media this week that showed “thousands” attending a peaceful prayer demonstration in Orange County at a synagogue in Kiryas Joel on Sunday, Sept. 13.

A tweet from Satmar Headquarters with the accompanying photos read: “Pictorial of 1st day of #Slichos with Satmar Grand Rebbe Aron in the main Shul of the Town of Palm Tree in Kiryas Joel, the newly constructed wing with additional space for hundreds of seats was inaugurated today.”

Under New York State’s guidelines for religious gatherings, services are supposed to remain at no more than 33 percent occupancy, while maintaining six feet of distance between other parties, which are limited to no more than 10 people.

Hand holding or shaking hands of members in different parties is also restricted during services.

In response to the violation of the state’s COVID-19 rules, Orange County health officials posted a cease and desist order this week on the door of Kiryas Joel’s main synagogue warning of potential criminal or civil charges.

The county Health Department and New York State Police are investigating the photos to determine what steps they will take to ensure compliance.

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