Millions face Easter under coronavirus curbs around the world - GulfToday

Millions face Easter under coronavirus curbs around the world


The Easter Vigil held in smaller numbers than in pre-pandemic years in Porto, Portugal. Reuters

Millions of Christians around the world on Saturday faced another Easter weekend under restrictions because of coronavirus surges, but the hard-hit United States made good news as it crossed the milestone of 100 million people receiving at least one vaccine shot.

Worrying spikes in infections in many parts of the world, even as vaccine rollouts gather pace, have forced the reimposition of deeply unpopular restrictions.

Italy began a strict Easter lockdown on Saturday, with the entire country deemed a high-risk "red zone" during a time when families usually get together.


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At Rome's normally bustling Piazza Navona, site of the famed Fountain of the Four Rivers, a scattering of dog-walkers and cyclists could be seen enjoying the spring weather.

Shops selling essentials were open in the nearby winding streets, but without the normal throng.

Christians gather at a church for Easter mass at the Makassar cathedral on Palm Sunday. AFP

"It's getting annoying," a man who gave his name as Giovanni said of the restrictions, as he walked his dog.

New curbs were also coming into force Saturday in France, where authorities are scrambling to deal with a dramatic rise in cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in Paris.

'Feel alive again'

Restrictions had been already stepped up in other European nations such as Belgium.

Germans protested in their thousands on Saturday amid heated debate throughout the country about tightening restrictions in the face of a third wave of Covid-19.

Marchers, few of whom wore face masks, carried banners with the slogan "End the dictatorship of Covid".

The government scrapped plans for a strict Easter lockdown, but Chancellor Angela Merkel urged people to limit their social contacts ahead of the break.

Across the Atlantic, fresh curbs were also imposed ahead of Easter in Ontario and Quebec, Canada's two most populous provinces.

And in the Philippines, a lockdown affecting more than 24 million people was being extended for another week as authorities deploy tents and health workers to overwhelmed hospitals.

Christians gather at a church for Easter mass in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Sunday. Juni Kriswanto/AFP

But there was a step towards normalcy in Jerusalem's Old City, where a lockdown dampened Easter last year.

A modest crowd turned out this year as most major sites opened thanks to Israel's successful vaccine rollout.

"Last year, it was very hard. We felt like the city was dead," said Lina Sleibi, a Palestinian Christian who sings at church services in the nearby West Bank holy city of Bethlehem.

Now, "you feel alive again", she said.

Agence France-Presse

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