March 25 (UPI) -- Israeli Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef told worshipers Wednesday to stay away from synagogues, after new statistics showed more than a quarter of coronavirus patients were sickened after visiting religious venues.
The rabbis, who until now had resisted calls for congregations to stay at home, said they should pray outside while near a synagogue as opposed to going inside.
"We ask everyone to continue to petition and pray ... and to request that soon 'a crown will be given unto God' and that 'all may be sanctified by you,'" the chief rabbis said.
Rabbi associations in the United States, Britain and Switzerland have also warned worshipers against gathering inside synagogues.
New data shows that more than 30 percent of Israelis with the virus had visited synagogues and yeshivas. New government restrictions that take effect on Wednesday forbid people from gathering inside synagogues.
Regulations also require Israelis to stay within 100 meters of their homes and limit their use of public transportation. Travel outside the home is limited to going to work, buying food or medicines, receiving medical treatment and other essential activities.