Churches In Jerusalem And Bethlehem Reopen As Coronavirus Restrictions Are Lifted


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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.

BETHLEHEM, -: Palestinian clergymen march through Manger Square in front of the Nativity Church in the Biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem during the traditional Christmas Eve procession 24 December 2006. The festivities in the town where according to tradition Jesus Christ was born have been overshadow by a long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process and recent Palestinian in-fighting in Gaza and the West Bank. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

A golden crucifix is carried during a celebration at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, located in Palestinian territory (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images)

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.”

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