Jerusalem holy sites during COVID19


Like cities around the world, Jerusalem looks entirely different since the onset of the pandemic. And its not only because the city is void of international tourists visiting on a holy land tour. As the cradle of faith for the three monotheistic religions, the holy city is endowed with numerous sites that are holy to Islam, Judaism and Christianity. For approximately two months Jerusalem holy sites were closed to worshippers and reopened beginning in early May. Strict guidelines at holy sites including social distancing regulations, mandatory wearing of masks, and numbers of people allowed (both inside and outside) were established and are being enforced.

Jerusalem Old city walls during covid19.
Jerusalem Old city walls during covid19. Photo courtesy Eitan Ashraf

The Al Aqsa Mosque, considered the third most important holy site in Islam, reopened for outdoor prayer only on May 31. Worshippers were told to wear face masks and to bring their own prayer mats with them.

The Temple Mount plaza outside the Al Aqsa mosque on the first day the site was reopened for prayer Photo courtesy: Itamar Ben David for Travelujah

The Western Wall, the holiest site for Judaism, reopened to worshippers from outside the old city on May 5th, also with strict rules regarding the wearing of masks, handling of the  and social distancing.  New divided prayer sections were installed on both the mens and womens side  to maintain proper distancing.

Social distancing at the Western Wall. Photo courtesy Itamar Ben David
Local family visiting the Western wall on Tisha B'Av
Local family visiting the Western wall on Tisha B’Av. Photo courtesy Itamar Ben David

The normally packed Palm Sunday path leading from the Mt. of Olives to Gethsemene is very quiet.

The normally tourist filled Palm Sunday path during the COVID19 pandemic. Photo courtesy Travelujah

Many of the venerated Christian sites, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Agony, and St. Annes also reopened with strict guidelines as well and limited hours of operation.  

Outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during COVID19 pandemic. Photo courtesy Travelujah

The regulations on outdoor gatherings, inside and outside prayer, masks have been revised several times over the last three months.

Christian quarter during the pandemic
Christian quarter market during the pandemic; photo courtesy Itamar ben David
Jaffa Road during the lockdown of COVID 19 in April 2020.
Jaffa Road, the heart of downtown Jerusalem, during the lockdown in April 2020. Photo Courtesy Eitan Ashraf

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