Coronavirus: Palestinians easing COVID-19 restrictions in West Bank

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Mosques, churches and businesses in the occupied West Bank will reopen on Tuesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday.

The Palestinian Authority declared a health emergency in March and imposed lockdowns after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Shtayyeh said it was time to “cautiously return life to normal” now that infection rates had slowed.

The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories on Tuesday will coincide with the last day of the Eid El-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

A Palestinian worshipper arriving to attend Friday prayers in a mosque has his hand sanitized as the holy places reopen to worshippers to perform the weekly Islamic ritual, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease, in Gaza City on May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

A Palestinian worshipper arriving to attend Friday prayers in a mosque has his hand sanitized as the holy places reopen to worshippers to perform the weekly Islamic ritual, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease, in Gaza City on May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

 

Shtayyeh said that government ministries and offices would reopen on Wednesday and that checkpoints set up to limit traffic between West Bank cities would be removed.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 423 cases of the new coronavirus in the West Bank and two deaths.

The health crisis has led to a 50 percent fall in commercial revenues in the West Bank, in a blow to an already ailing economy in which unemployment is at 17.6 percent, local officials said.

In the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Palestinian Authority’s rival, the Islamist group Hamas, 54 coronavirus cases and one death have been recorded.

 

 

Reuters

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