The Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Thronhill, Ontario
The Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Thronhill, OntarioSara Ita Eisenberg

The Ontario government will allow places of worship, including synagogues, to reopen on a limited scale.

Starting Friday, most municipalities in the Canadian province except the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and some other areas will move to Stage 2 of reopening, which includes restaurants, hair salons, shopping malls and public pools.

But houses of worship in the whole province will be able to open to group prayers. Attendance at churches, mosques and synagogues will be limited to 30 percent capacity, with appropriate physical distancing.

Under emergency regulations issued to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario had banned religious gatherings of more than five people since the end of March. Orthodox synagogues, however, require a quorum of 10 men, or a minyan, for public worship. The five-person limit did not apply to grocery stores, liquor stores or other commercial enterprises, however.

Late last month, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announced that it would take legal action to challenge the Ontario prayer restrictions. B’nai Brith Canada supported the move to ask the Ontario government to accommodate religious freedom in the province, it said in a statement.

Other provinces, such as British Columbia and Alberta, have allowed religious gatherings of up to 50 people as long as physical distancing could be maintained.