נגיף קורונה בית לחם כנסיית המולד
Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity
Photo: AFP
Members of the clergy wear masks as they stand near the entrance of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

Revered Holy Land churches reopen, but some restrictions remain

As pandemic concerns ease, Church of the Nativity is capping access at 50 people at a time, Church of the Holy Sepulchre requires worshipers to coordinate in advance, while Al-Aqsa mosque to reopen this week

Reuters |
Published: 05.26.20 , 15:21
The Holy Land churches revered as the sites of Jesus' birth and death reopened to worshippers and tourists on Tuesday, as Palestinian and church authorities eased coronavirus restrictions.
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  • Amid lingering pandemic concerns, Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity is capping access at 50 people at a time and requires that they be free of fever and wear protective masks.
    Members of the clergy wear masks as they stand near the entrance of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem Members of the clergy wear masks as they stand near the entrance of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
    Members of the clergy wear masks as they stand near the entrance of Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection, also reopened its doors, but worshippers will be required to coordinate their visit in advance.
    Both churches were closed in March, in a blow to the local tourism industry.
    נגיף קורונה בית לחם כנסיית המולד נגיף קורונה בית לחם כנסיית המולד
    Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity
    (Photo: AFP)
    "The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ gave hope to people more than 2,000 years ago, and opening the church today will, I think, give hope to the whole world that hopefully this pandemic will end - not only in Palestine but in the whole world," Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma'ayah said.
    There have been 423 recorded coronavirus cases and two deaths in the West Bank.
    A Greek Orthodox priest and a caretaker stand in front the   deserted Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in   the Old City of Jerusalem, March 15, 2020 A Greek Orthodox priest and a caretaker stand in front the   deserted Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in   the Old City of Jerusalem, March 15, 2020
    A Greek Orthodox priest and a caretaker stand in front of the deserted Edicule in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 15, 2020
    (Photo: AFP)
    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in the walled Old City of Jerusalem, was closed throughout the Easter season because of the coronavirus, with only a handful of clerics able to worship inside.
    On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said mosques, churches and businesses would reopen on Tuesday in an easing of curbs, given the slow pace of infections.
    Palestinians perform their Friday prayers in the almost deserted   Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, after the   mosques were shut in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus,   March 20, 2020 Palestinians perform their Friday prayers in the almost deserted   Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, after the   mosques were shut in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus,   March 20, 2020
    Palestinians perform their Friday prayers in the almost deserted Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, after the mosques were shut in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, March 20, 2020
    (Photo: AFP)
    The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories coincides with the last day of the Eid el-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
    Muslim prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound are also expected to resume later this week after nearly a two-month pause, according to a statement published last week by Palestinian religious officials.

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