A synagogue in New York has been fined $15,000 (£11,200) for violating Covid-19 restrictions by holding a massive wedding. The Hasidic wedding was held at Yetev Lev D’Satmar synagogue in Williamsburg, with footage of the event showing vast crowds of maskless attendees singing and dancing together.
The place of worship has a capacity of around 7,000 people, though it is unclear how many were attending the celebration - New York's mayor, Bill De Blasio, condemned the gathering and said officials are still trying to determine the number of revellers.
"What we do know is unquestionably it was too many people," he said. "Whatever that number — whether it was hundreds, thousands — it was too many people. And it appears that there was a very conscious effort to conceal what was going on. And that's what makes it even more unacceptable."
Governor Andrew Cuomo said that it would be "really shocking" if it was confirmed that the wedding had been planned in secret — as has been alleged — not least because a similar event had been stopped at the same synagogue on a prior occasion. "It's illegal," he added, "it was also disrespectful to the people of New York."
De Blasio warned that if a newly-issued cease and desist order was not heeded by the synagogue, the building would be shut down permanently.
"We don't want to see that happen to anyone," he said. "But we need to be very, very clear that if folks are doing something dangerous we can't allow it to happen."
A piece in the Yiddish Der Blatt newspaper detailed how the community allegedly planned the event in complete secrecy.
“Due to the ongoing situation with government restrictions, preparations were made secretly and discreetly, so as not to draw attention from strangers,” it reads, as per the New York Post.
"In recent weeks, organizers worked tirelessly to arrange everything in the best way possible. All notices about upcoming celebrations were passed along through word of mouth, with no notices in writing, no posters on the synagogue walls, no invitations sent through the mail, nor even a report in any publication, including this very newspaper.”