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Protective of religious beards, Israel to produce fitted face masks


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis who have beards for religious reasons will get the option of custom-made face masks to protect them from the coronavirus rather than being told to shave, a government official said on Monday.

As part of measures to combat the epidemic, Israeli authorities last week told people to cover their mouths and noses in public.

Many of the country's Jews and Muslims, and some Christian clergymen, wear beards as a mark of faith, and the order raised questions as to how facial hair would be accommodated.

Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto said masks would be adapted accordingly.

"We are creating an industrial certification for masks, which means that in a few days there will really be masks of different sizes," he told Army Radio.

"...(So) those with beards will be able to use the appropriate masks."

A spokesman for Israel's Chief Rabbinate has said it might consider issuing a ruling permitting religious Jews to shave if the ministry were to deem it necessary.

Grotto said seeking a rabbinical dispensation to remove facial hair was "not on the agenda right now".

(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by John Stonestreet)

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