Israel is preparing to mass-produce face masks increasingly used to avoid the spread of the coronavirus for men who wear beards, a common practice among religious communities in the country.
Many Jews, Muslims, and some Christians in Israel keep beards as a sign of faith. It has become an issue, since the emergence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Israeli authorities last week told their citizens to cover their mouths and noses in public as a measure against the epidemic. But it is not easy to put on a protective face mask on a bearded face.
Itamar Grotto, the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Health, has answered the concerns raised by those men.
“We are creating an industrial certification for masks, which means that in a few days there will really be masks of different sizes,” he said last week in an interview with Army Radio. “[So] those with beards will be able to use the appropriate masks.”
On the other hand, a spokesman for Israel’s Chief Rabbinate told the media that it might consider issuing a ruling permitting religious Jews to shave. Grotto dismissed the idea, saying it was “not on the agenda right now”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked Israelis to celebrate the upcoming Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays with “the nuclear family only” and to keep elderly relatives away for their safety during that time.
As of April 11, Israel had a confirmed total of almost 11,000 cases of COVID-19 and a death toll of over 100.