In his motzei Shabbos update, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt said it was too early to say with certainty what Shavuos would look like, but that COVID-19 restrictions were definitely heading toward moderation.
He again urged everyone to get vaccinated and to continue to wear masks and social distance as much as possible.
“The current main way that COVID is being spread is through large gatherings,” Glatt said. “Attending such events increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID.”
“Now granted,” he continued, “if you’re vaccinated that risk is very low. And that’s why it’s reasonable to start getting back to normal with regard to family type events. And even small groups — inviting people over for a lunch meal — is a reasonable thing if both are vaccinated and everyone is healthy.”
“Shuls can generally resume normal davening — signing, aliyot — but still mask and distance,” he said. He reminded that the loosening of restrictions should take place “only if you can guarantee you are dealing with vaccinated people.”
And anyone who is stick should stay home. “Don’t go to shul if you’re not feeling well,” he emphasized.
To those concerned about the safety of the vaccines, he pointed to the Johnson & Johnson pause as proof “that the system works.”
“Proof of this is that we picked up an adverse reaction that occurs in less than 1 in 1 million cases,” while COVID causes that same problem in 39 in a million, he said.
“Nobody should dismiss this vaccine as being a mistake or an error.”
“Hakadosh Baruch Hu has given the scientists the ability to develop these vaccines,” Glatt added. “He’s saying, I’m giving you the refuah.”
Glatt was asked if, when vaccines are approved for children, parents should have their kids jabbed.
“Why are we giving vaccines to children?” Glatt responded. Because “in the past 11 months, in the US alone, 292 children died of COVID.
“It is a mistake to think that children don’t get serious illness with Covid [although], B”H, children are at much lower risk than are older adults.”
He said that “flu killed 180 children two years ago, one of the worse years that we’ve had. So COVID has killed far more children than flu ever did. And that’s the reason once the vaccine becomes available you will want to vaccinate your children.”
And what about Shavuos?
“Everyone’s asking me when can we go back to normal. Every week we’re going to look at new information. I can’t predict what’s going to be at Shavuos time, even now. I base everything I say on the data that’s available and my discussions with the poskim. …
“Rav Schachter shilta and Rav Willig shilta have both personaly told me, as have other great gedolim, that we have to follow at this point in time what the CDC and the experts are saying.
“I agree with many people that it is possible that the CDC is being exceedingly cautious. And that is exactly what halacha demands that we do. Where the CDC doesn’t have a statement, I think we’re able to use our judgement.”
“Each week I think there may be opportunity to loosen these restrictions further and who knows what Shavuos will look like,” he concluded.