Belgian Court Rejects Coronavirus Ban on Places of Worship

The Thora VeJirah shul of Antwerp, 26 Charlottalei, which filed the lawsuit. (googlemaps)

The Belgian Council of State, the supreme administrative court in the country, ruled on Tuesday that closing places of worship due to the coronavirus pandemic is disproportionate and contravenes the principles of freedom of religion.

The case was brought by mosdos and individuals from the Satmar kehillah in Antwerp, who sought a ruling that davening and learning in Shuls and batei midrashim should not be banned, while other places considered by the government to be essential, such as gyms, were allowed to remain open. The kehillah also requested that chasunas should be allowed to take place.

The judges agreed that closing places of worship in this way is a breach of freedom of religion, and ordered the Government to amend the regulations to allow them to reopen in a Covid-secure way. They have been given a deadline of 13th December to effect this, otherwise the judges themselves will rule that they must be allowed to be open.

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