Hundreds of people violated coronavirus regulations by participating in Purim street parties in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night, a day before a three-day nighttime curfew is set to begin nationwide because of the holiday.
Coronavirus czar Nachman Ash said it was "very dismaying that this is how some are choosing to behave at such a time, when the infection numbers are still high."
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein also condemned the gatherings in a Facebook post on Thursday: "The revelers at the infection-spreading parties need to know – the rise in infection will be signed with your names, businesses will close because of you, the loss of human life will be on your conscience," he wrote. "You see the situation, you see how young people are falling seriously ill, how death comes for every age."
The two largest parties were in the Kerem Hateimanim neighborhood and on Rothschild Boulevard. Some of those who attended the former said it was not a preplanned party, but rather developed spontaneously by people who were buying drinks at local bars. The latter party saw a younger crowd, including many teenagers. Police arrived at both locations, demanding that people disperse and warning that they would hand out fines.
Ash said that authorities were constantly warning of the importance of following regulations, "and in the end we encounter outrageous images of irresponsible parties and mass gatherings."
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Police also dispersed an outdoor rave in the Lachish Forest, south of Jerusalem on Wednesday night. About 20 people were apprehended, including the party organizers, and handed fines.
On Tuesday, the cabinet approved a nightly curfew for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, lasting between 8:30 P.M. and 5:00 A.M.