Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered in Christian tradition as the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, was closed on Wednesday as a precaution against the coronavirus, Reuters reports.
The closure, initially for a week, followed a meeting between Israeli police and church leaders, said Wadie Abu Nassar, spokesperson of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, after the Israeli government announced tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
“The initial understanding is that this order is valid for one week, although nobody knows how long this crisis will take,” he said.
The closure comes in the build-up to Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, which Roman Catholics this year celebrate on April 12. It would normally see thousands of pilgrims and tourists flock to the city, whose streets are now virtually deserted.
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 26, 2020
The anti-virus restrictions began last month when Roman Catholic priests were told to place communion wafers into the hand only, rather than onto worshippers’ tongues.
Jerusalem’s walled Old City houses places sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the other religions have taken similar precautions.
On Sunday, Muslim religious officials suspended all prayers at the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)