Coronavirus: Bethlehem is closed down.

Posted on Mar 14, 2020

The city of Bethlehem suffers a new “siege” as never before in its long history. The Coronavirus has changed the lives of its inhabitants, especially following the restrictions imposed by the Palestinian government.

The Basilica of the Nativity, the beating heart of the city that, until a few weeks ago, welcomed hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, is now almost empty. Few priests have celebrated Sunday Mass: they wanted to offer intentions and prayers to the Lord so that He could spare the inhabitants of Bethlehem and the whole world from the anxiety and anguish of the Coronavirus.

The first outbreak appeared in the nearby town of Beit Jala: some Palestinian workers from the Angel Hotel who had come into contact with a Greek group who had stayed in the same hotel were found positive for the virus.

The streets of Bethlehem are now empty, as are the shops. All the hotel facilities have been unoccupied by tourists, and reservations have been cancelled following the ban on entering the city.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has also decreed the closure of the schools and universities in Bethlehem and Jericho for 14 days, and has banned public events.

The heads of the Christian Churches called on the population to a sense of common responsibility, and the need to cooperate with the authorities and those responsible for public health, for the benefit of all.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem extended the new precautionary measures to the entire area of the Palestinian Territories, and then launched a message of hope and optimism:

“We must not allow ourselves to panic,” he explained, “but be aware that we will succeed in passing this test too. We must not doubt, faith in Jesus always helps us and supports us. Christians are those who decide to live in love and not in fear. Let us remain calm and firm in hope”.