KIEV - Ukraine announced on Monday that it had decided to ban the annual Hasidic pilgrimage to the city of Uman due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual three-day-long celebration on the Jewish New Year brings tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews to the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the founder of Breslov Hasidic movement who died in 1810.
"Such an event format amid the pandemic creates huge risks for the spread of the virus not only for the participants of the event but also for the local residents," Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement.
“We treat the national traditions of different people and religious communities with respect and do everything each year to hold them according to the highest standards of safety," he said.
"However," Avakov added, "in recent weeks, Ukraine has seen an increase in the coronavirus outbreak among the population."
"We listened to the reports of the relevant government ministers and came to the conclusion that the epidemiological situation in the country and around the world rules out mass events, especially with the participation of the foreign nationals."
Earlier, Mayor of Uman Oleksandr Tsebriy said that if necessary, he would set up roadblocks to ensure that "outsiders" not enter the city .
He added that 94% of the city’s population oppose the entry of foreign nationals from “red" countries with a high level of coronavirus infection, of which Israel is one.