UMAN, UKRAINE (VINnews) —The mayor of Uman, the Ukrainian town where Breslov Chasidim congregate every year at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, has spoken out against this year’s pilgrimage set to be held in September amid the uncertainty over the rampant coronavirus.
Mayor Oleksandr Tserbiy said in a Facebook video that “every year about 30,000 pilgrims come to Uman to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. But this year, the coronavirus pandemic made adjustments to our life… It’s a very difficult situation in the world and in Ukraine. In Uman, the situation is under control… But the arrival of a large number of foreigners from different countries could cause a coronavirus outbreak in our town.”
Tserbiy went on to express doubt that all pilgrims who would like to visit the town this year would have appropriate medical certificates with negative COVID-19 test results or whether they would be willing to undergo 14-day quarantine on arrival as required by the Ukrainian government.
“The government foresees the second wave of coronavirus in September. In the current situation, I stand against the arrival of pilgrims this year,” the mayor emphasized. However, realizing that the decision would deeply affect the economic situation of the town which relies heavily on the annual tourism, the mayor invited Uman residents to express their opinions on the matter under the post.
A local resident told Ynet that he supports the decision to prevent pilgrims from arriving: “Due to the efforts by doctors and authorities, we had so far only one victim in Uman, Rabbi Bolashevski” he said. “We had 6 more COVID-19 patients who recovered. Most residents support the decision of the mayor. I don’t want us to make such a deal and be exposed to danger or expose the Hasidim to danger. I prefer to miss out on our livelihood for one year, since health is more important.”
Earlier in April, Israel’s Ambassador to the Ukraine Joel Lion called on the Hasidim not to go on a pilgrimage to Uman amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rosh Hashanah in 2020 will begin on September 18 and will end September 20.