JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Israeli health ministry called yesterday to close shuls and conduct minyanim of up to 19 people outside, but a survey on the health ministry’s site revealed Monday that in the past 7 days, just 11 of the 322 places exposed to coronavirus were shuls- less than 4% of the total.

The Makor Rishon newspaper added that this number does not include 120 exposures on public transport.

The site also revealed that a third of the recent cases occurred at public events. The ministry recommended cutting the number of people at such events to a maximum of 150.

MK Betzalel Smotrich responded to the findings by calling on the health ministry to “lay off the shuls and the religious community.”

Smotrich wrote that “less than 4% of recent infections occurred in a shul. People are far stricter on wearing masks in shuls than in other venues. If halls and restaurants are open there is no reason to close shuls. Tefillah and study in shuls are no less important than the economy.”

Former health minister Yaakov Litzman also criticized the ministry’s recommendations stating that “I wish to clarify the rate of infection in shuls and based on that to take decision about possible restrictions. According to the National Security Council report, the rate of infection in shuls is significantly lower in comparison to other gathering places.”