Churches In Jerusalem And Bethlehem Reopen As Coronavirus Restrictions Are Lifted
Churches in the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, including the sites of Jesus’ birth and death, reopened Tuesday as local and church authorities lifted some of the social restrictions that were in place due to the coronavirus.
Holy Land churches have been closed to the public since March, but local authorities in the Palestinian territories announced that houses of worship would become accessible again along with businesses and stores, according to Reuters.
As Holy Land churches reopen, some restrictions continue to be enforced. Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity capped access to 50 people and required protective masks, while Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre announced that worshippers would have to plan their visits ahead of time. (RELATED: Poll: Majority Of Religious Americans Think Coronavirus Is A Sign From God That Humans Need To Change)
Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Ma’ayah said in a statement Tuesday that the drop in new coronavirus cases allowed for the decision to be made and that reopening churches would “give hope to the whole world that hopefully this pandemic will end.”
The decision to reopen houses of worship comes as countries around the world begin to ease social restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, churches in Italy resumed their regular services for the first time since March, and Catholic churches like St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City held mass with some restrictions still in place.
In the United States, President Donald Trump has also supported reopening houses of worship, referring to religious services as an “essential part of life.”