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Two New Jersey homeowners are arrested after hosting large gatherings including a pop-up wedding at their homes as cops say people are ignoring the coronavirus lockdown

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 3/21/2020 Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com

a tree in a park: The image above shows the home of Eliyohu Zaks, 49, of Lakewood, New Jersey. Zaks was arrested and charged after police broke up a pop-up wedding at his home earlier this week

The image above shows the home of Eliyohu Zaks, 49, of Lakewood, New Jersey. Zaks was arrested and charged after police broke up a pop-up wedding at his home earlier this week
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Two New Jersey residents were arrested this week after they hosted large crowds at events in their homes, including a pop-up wedding, in defiance of social distancing orders amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

Eliyohu Zaks, 49, was taken into custody on Friday after authorities said he hosted a pop-up wedding in his home on Spruce Street in Lakewood.

The event was attended by more than 50 people, a violation of the state’s newly enacted edict banning such gatherings as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus.

Another local resident, 43-year-old Shaul Kuperwasser, was arrested after a large crowd was seen gathering at his home on Thursday.

Lakewood officials said they have received dozens of angry phone calls from local residents who have reported mass gatherings in recent days, according to Patch.

The authorities said they are acting with a sense of urgency after Lakewood reported a confirmed 26 cases of coronavirus through Friday.

Across New Jersey, at least 11 people have died of coronavirus infection. Statewide, there have been a confirmed 890 cases.

Lakewood Police Captain Gregory Staffordsmith said his officers have continued to break up large gatherings this week despite the stay-at-home order.

‘We want the public to know that we have heard and share their concerns regarding gatherings of more than 50 people and have taken action against those who have failed to comply,’ he said.

The recent sightings of public gatherings have already exacerbated long-running tensions in Lakewood, where a large Orthodox Jewish population has relocated in recent years.

New Jersey police earlier this week broke up two large weddings at reception halls, according to NJ Advance Media.

Even as wedding halls were ordered to shut down, residents simply moved the ceremonies to backyards on their residential properties.

Lakewood residents were particularly outraged by photos showing hundreds of students inside a local yeshiva.

The photos which were circulated on Thursday on Orthodox Jewish news sites and social media set off ‘a flood of notification,’ according to police.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy this week angrily vowed to crack down more harshly on residents who held gatherings as state authorities struggle to prevent the fast-spreading disease.

‘It’s time to cut the crap,’ Murphy told reporters in Trenton on Thursday.

When asked about the continued violations in Lakewood, Murphy said: ‘We simply cannot have this.

‘We have got to ensure compliance, no matter what the circumstances are.’

The governor vowed that his order banning gatherings of more than 50 people ‘has to be enforced.’

‘It will be enforced aggressively,’ he said.

Murphy was also asked to respond to rumors circulating online of widespread coronavirus infections among the Orthodox Jewish population of Lakewood.

‘We don’t have any insight on that,’ said the governor.

‘There was a rumor that 100 people were exposed. We cannot confirm that.’

Orthodox community leaders in Lakewood said that all 200 local synagogues and 130 yeshivas in the area have either shut down completely or limited prayer to small groups. 

'This is a very concentrated close-knit community,' Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg told NJ Advance Media

'Many day-to-day activities and religious customs are done in group settings, so it’s a bit of a learning curve.

'But an incident here or there should not reflect the community.'

Nationwide, the death toll reached 280 as of Saturday afternoon. 

Meanwhile, the total number of confirmed cases being reported in the United States surpassed 22,000. 

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