The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have issued guidelines for the upcoming Purim holiday for shuls and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of their guidance includes:
Megillah Reading: Shuls should conduct public davening and Megillah readings only with proper masking and social distancing, in accordance with local regulations and guidelines. As has been the case for many months, many shuls may find it necessary to create additional Minyanim to address capacity issues resulting from distancing requirements.
- Generally healthy individuals should attend public Megillah readings as usual, where the community is exercising the proper precautions of social distancing and masking.
- Those who are not currently ill but are not attending a public reading because they are deemed high risk should reach out to their Rabbi and community to help arrange a private Megillah reading.
- Those who are ill or have had serious exposure and must remain in isolation must not come to shul. To fulfill the Mitzvah, they should have a kosher, hand-written Megillah in hand from which they read audibly, either on their own or assisted by a reading heard electronically.
- The clear majority of Halachic authorities do not consider Halachically adequate a Megillah reading heard over the phone or online. There is however a minority opinion that does allow for this, provided that the reading is live, and not pre-recorded. Following the Halachic principle that we may rely upon minority opinions under extenuating circumstances, when no better option exists this minority opinion can be relied upon.
Seudas Purim: Purim meals and get-togethers must necessarily be limited due to the pandemic, social distancing requirements, avoidance of prolonged exposure, singing and dancing in enclosed spaces. For those who have not achieved immunity, the Purim Seudah would best be conducted within the family “bubble.”
Mishloach Manos: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that cooking or preparing food and delivering it to someone, with a mask and proper social distancing, is a very low-risk activity. When delivering or receiving Mishloach Manos, visit and greet guests outside the home and leave the package on the front porch or outside the apartment door.