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Hoping Omicron Won’t Wreck Christmas, Bethlehem Lights up Tree | World News

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) – Residents lit up a large Christmas tree outdoors Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity on Saturday, hoping {that a} new coronavirus variant does not wreck one other vacation season within the conventional birthplace of Jesus.

The Palestinian metropolis within the Israeli-occupied West Bank was all however closed final Christmas, shedding its peak vacationer season to the pandemic.

This December has seen Israel shut out international travellers for 14 days to attempt to stop the Omicron variant taking maintain, and the hope is that the ban will finish as scheduled, in time for Christmas journey. In its final pre-pandemic winter, in 2019/20, Bethlehem hosted 3.5 million guests.

The big tree, topped with a shiny pink star, was lit up with lots of of colored lights as pink, white and inexperienced fireworks illuminated the evening sky.

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Mayor Anton Salman mentioned the journey ban had prevented a number of international delegations attending.

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Nonetheless, the viewers in Manger Square in entrance of the church was far greater than final 12 months, when coronavirus restrictions saved even native spectators away.

“It may be very joyful, a really good night. The air is filled with hope, filled with pleasure, filled with expectation,” mentioned Maria, a vacationer from Finland who didn’t present her full title.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abu Ganeyeh and Yosri al-Jamal in Bethlehem and Roleen Tafakji in Jerusalem; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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