Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, reopened on Tuesday, more than two months after closing in the face of the coronavirus.
A handful of priests from different Christian denominations stood to watch as the door to the church in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was opened, an AFP photographer reported.
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Once inside, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Bethlehem, Bishop Theophylactos, kissed an icon while a priest sprayed holy water in the grotto of the church, where Christians believe Christ was born in a manger.
The church had been closed since March 5 when an outbreak of COVID-19 was detected in Bethlehem.
Initially only 50 people will be allowed in the church at one time and visitors must wear face coverings and observe social distancing, a joint statement from the churches that control the site said.
On Monday, Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh announced an end to the lockdown.
(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)