Bethlehem Holds Small Christmas Tree Lighting Due to Pandemic
Bethlehem held a small lighting ceremony of its main Christmas tree in Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity. The small gathering of religious and local political leaders and journalists were in compliance with restrictions on gatherings due to the coronavirus crisis. Others watched the annual tree lighting event online. Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rola Maayah, and the Governor of Bethlehem Kamel Hamid attended Saturday evening’s ceremony, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh participated virtually from his Ramallah office, according to the report. “There is a very heavy price for the pandemic that we are experiencing both economically and commercially, but as we have always been together we will be together, and as we rose before, we will rise again,” he said. In normal year, thousands of tourists visit Bethlehem during the Christmas season, in a boost to the local economy. Last week, the PA government ordered a nighttime curfew to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Under the rules, which include Bethlehem, people must remain in their homes from 7 pm until 6 am. The lockdown likely will last until Christmas and into the new year.