The current worldwide health crisis has caused life in Israel to close down, including worship at holy sites and grounds. However, due to the country’s quick and far-reaching response to the pandemic, it is now able to begin returning to a “new normal”, which includes the immanent reopening of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre.
The church, situated in Jerusalem’s Old City, is a site where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, entombed and resurrected and typical day before the pandemic hit, would have seen thousands of visitors to the church, from all over the world.
While members of the clergy have already been invited to pray within the church, it is the intention to open doors to the public and allow worship to take place. However, to safeguard visitors going forward, visitors to the Holy Sepulchre will be asked to maintain social distancing and the church is limiting entry to 50 visitors at a time. In addition, worshipers are requested not to kiss or touch religious items to prevent the spread of the disease.
Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director of the Israel Government Tourist Office UK said: “We are really pleased that the Holy Sepulchre has reopened its doors. We’re seeing this as the next step in a return to ‘normal’ and as a positive sign for tourism in Israel too. Faith-based tourism is a huge pull for visitors to the country, so we’re positive that if we continue to safeguard visitors and control the rate of infection, that soon Israel’s beautiful churches and holy sites of worship will once again be enjoyed by people from all over the world.”