Coronavirus dampens Christmas joy in Bethlehem and elsewhere

Virus Outbreak Bethlehem Christmas

Christians take photos inside the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Normally packed with tourists from around the world at this time of year, Bethlehem resembles a ghost town – with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops shuttered by the pandemic. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — A stream of marching bands joyously paraded through Bethlehem, but few people were there to greet them as the coronavirus pandemic and a strict lockdown dampened Christmas Eve celebrations in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Similar subdued scenes have been repeated across the world. Festive family gatherings and packed prayers that typically mark the holiday have been scaled back or canceled altogether.

In Australia, worshippers had to book tickets online to attend socially distanced church services. Pope Francis is set to celebrate Mass in the near-empty Vatican basilica early in the evening, hours before a nationwide curfew goes into effect.

Categories: Coronavirus, National News