The coronavirus pandemic started almost a year ago from the Chinese city of Wuhan. But the December of 2019 was not as deadly as the present one. Christians all over the world celebrated Christmas with religious zeal last year, but the celebrations this year are a low-key affair.
The Vatican mass this year was not largely attended as the Italian government imposed COVID-19 restrictions. Pope Francis address the Vatican’s traditional Christmas Mass in a near empty cathedral. On Christmas even, only a few people were invited to the “Mass during the Night.” It began at 7:30 in the evening local time, instead of traditional late night mass, so that the people could get home in time to observe Italy’s 10 PM curfew.
Police in Italy were also out to implement new Covid-19 travel restrictions, aimed at preventing far-flung families from gathering for Christmas.
Although bands paraded through Bethlehem on Thursday as usual, few people were out on the streets to greet them, as the coronavirus pandemic and a strict lockdown dampened Christmas eve celebrations at the traditional birthplace of Jesus.
Similar scenes were repeated across the world as the festive family gatherings and packed prayers that typically mark the holiday were scaled back or canceled altogether.
In Australia, worshippers had to book tickets online to attend socially distanced church services. Celebrations throughout Europe were greatly scaled back or canceled as infections surge and a new, more contagious variant has been detected.
Thousands of truck drivers and travelers were trapped in mass gridlock at Britain’s Dover port on Christmas Eve. Additionally, there is a restriction on family gatherings so that spread of a variant coronavirus could be arrested.
As many Americans celebrate Christmas, more people are being hospitalized with the coronavirus than at any other point during the pandemic. More than 119,500 covid-19 patients nationwide were receiving inpatient treatment as of Wednesday, the second consecutive record-setting day. Although the US has issued no nationwide restrictions on travel, a decision left to state governments, a federal agency has advised citizens against moving out for the Christmas season.