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Palestinian Authorities Begin Easing Virus Restrictions in West Bank

Palestinian Authorities Begin Easing Virus Restrictions in West Bank

Monday, 25 May, 2020 - 11:45
Palestinians maintaining social distancing attend Friday prayers in a mosque, amid concern about the spread of COVID-19, in the northern Gaza Strip May 22, 2020. (Reuters)

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced on Monday that mosques, churches and businesses in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will reopen on Tuesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

The Palestinian Authority declared a health emergency in March and imposed lockdowns after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Shtayyeh said it was time to “cautiously return life to normal” now that infection rates had slowed.

The reopening of houses of worship, shops and factories on Tuesday will coincide with the last day of the Eid al--Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Shtayyeh said that government ministries and offices would reopen on Wednesday and that checkpoints set up to limit traffic between West Bank cities would be removed.

The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 423 cases of the new coronavirus in the West Bank and two deaths.

The health crisis has led to a 50% fall in commercial revenues in the West Bank, in a blow to an already ailing economy in which unemployment is at 17.6%, local officials said.

Fifty-four coronavirus cases and one death have been recorded in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

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