Jerusalem's Catholic community organised a social-distancing friendly procession for Palm Sunday on Sunday morning as churches announced they would be significantly reducing the traditionally large celebrations in the holy city amid measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Every year the Catholic churches in Jerusalem mark Palm Sunday with a moveable feast. The holiday commemorates the end of Lent, marking Jesus' return to Jerusalem after fasting in the desert for 40 days.

Jerusalem's Jewish, Muslim, and Christian places of worship have been closed to the public amid the coronavirus outbreak. This has prompted these groups to think of alternatives for this month of festivals, as Passover, Easter and Ramadan will all be celebrated during the lockdown.

The procession included Franciscan friars dressed in surgical masks and gloves knocking on doors through the city, delivering olive branches to self-isolating Christians, while walking from the Mount of Olives to the heart of the Old City.

Israel has reported over 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began, along with 47 deaths. The Palestinian authorities have confirmed 48 cases in the occupied West Bank so far.

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Associated Press 11 May 2020 11:44 CEST

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