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Christmas quiet: Coronavirus pandemic keeps crowds at home, World News

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Saint Peter’s Square was usually packed on Christmas Day with people from all over the world gathering to hear Pope Francis deliver his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

But this year, on Friday, the place was ghostly empty as Covid restrictions placed Italians under a nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The restrictions mean people can’t get away from it all. make it to St. Peter’s Square or to the Basilica for papal events, all of which have been moved inside.

The sound of the wind crossing St. Peter’s Square replaced the solemn sound of the trumpets of the military police rifle band and the smiles of the limited number of people allowed to follow Francis’s message from the Hall of Blessings inside of the apostolic palace of the Vatican were covered with mask protections.

See also: Europe celebrates Christmas gently amid coronavirus

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, presided over Christmas Mass on Friday in the Church of the Nativity, considered by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Mass in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which typically attracts hundreds of tourists and worshipers from around the world, was nearly empty this year amid COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

From online parties to virtual gatherings and celebrations, the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay off the streets over Christmas.

A smaller-than-usual crowd of worshipers greeted the Patriarch in Manger Square, in stark contrast to what would normally be a vibrant scene.

Just 12 months ago, the Palestinian city celebrated its busiest Christmas season in two decades, thanks to a dramatic increase in the number of pilgrims and tourists after the regional violence subsided.

But now hotels that added new wings in 2019 are closed and Christmas festivities will be held online due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Palestinian Authority.

Members of the British Royal Family are not spending the holiday season together this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alberobello’s famous trulli, or limestone buildings, lit up with Christmas entertainment, a glimpse of the light as Italy battles a new wave of coronavirus cases.

Snowflakes and stars illuminated the walls of the white cone-shaped constructions, typical of the Puglia region, giving a touch of Christmas spirit to one of the most beautiful Italian World Heritage sites.

The city’s narrow streets, usually crowded with tourists, were empty as the country was placed under national lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Years holidays.

A group of Father Frosts – Russian New Year characters similar to Santa Claus – landed on the roof of Moscow Children’s Hospital ahead of New Years celebrations on Friday to boost the spirits of young patients during the holiday season.

Some children as well as parents laughed and took photos as festive figures – dressed in red coats and wearing long beards – descended with ropes and waved through the windows.

“The Landing of Father Frost” is an annual tradition for Morozovskaya Hospital in Moscow. But this year, not only the disembarkation, but all other festivities were also held outside due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city’s health department said.

The climbers were joined by Snegurochkas – Russian New Year’s female characters who greeted little patients from an aerial ladder.

The climbers’ performance was followed by a colorful spectacle of Moscow street artists who paraded and danced in the hospital courtyard while an orchestra of snowmen played festive songs.

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