We are living through a frightening time. Many once-routine activities now present a risk of infection. It is permissible for a woman to choose to delay immersion given the current situation.
However, if you have made a personal choice not to leave home during this time (i.e., you are not in quarantine, you have not been given specific medical instructions, and you have no symptoms of illness), you should be aware that a properly-maintained mikveh is considered safe, especially when precautions are taken. Let’s look at these, step by step.
Making an appointment
Many mikva’ot are now operating on an appointment system to avoid groups of women congregating at the same time. Call in advance to check. In Israel appointments are now mandatory, and many mikva’ot are working hard to meet the new regulations.
You should do all your preparations at home to minimize any possible risk of infection or transmission. Even if you don’t have a bathtub, it is sufficient to take a thorough shower. Pack a large disposable bag with a towel, and a robe if you will use one. If you did your preparations earlier in the day, shower and comb your hair again right before you leave for the mikveh.
When you get to the mikveh, maintain a distance of two meters (six feet) from any other women there, including the mikveh attendant.
Mikva’ot have been instructed to clean and disinfect the rooms between women. In the preparation room, you should just undress — placing your clothes in the bag you brought from home — and inspect yourself in the mirror for possible barriers. Try to avoid touching surfaces or touching your face. This is the best way to prevent transmission of the virus and avoid risk of infection.
Inspect yourself before calling the mikveh attendant. You can rely on your own inspection, and do not need the mikveh attendant to touch you. Loose hairs on your back are not a chatzitzah and do not need to be removed, even if that is your usual custom. Try to maintain a distance of about two meters (six feet) from the attendant.
Chlorine kills the virus, so a properly maintained and chlorinated mikveh pool should not present a significant risk of infection. If you wish, you may reduce your customary number of dips. Sephardi women should recite the beracha before immersing. Ashkenazi women should immerse once, recite the beracha, and immerse again. If an Ashkenazi woman wishes to dip only once, she should recite the beracha after immersing.
Return to the preparation room, dry off, get dressed, and go home. Wash your hands well when you get home. You can also shower right after arriving home and do not need to wait until after you have been with your husband.
The decision as to whether to immerse at this time, or to delay immersion and remain in niddah, is in your hands. If you choose to immerse now, your risk of contracting Corona at a properly maintained mikveh is low. If you are immunocompromised or at high risk, please consult your physician.
For an interview with Yoetzet Halacha Dr. Deena Zimmerman on mikveh safety, please see here.
May we all merit good health and good news.