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.
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 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.
The normally packed Palm Sunday path leading from the Mt. of Olives to Gethsemene is very quiet.
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.
The regulations on outdoor gatherings, inside and outside prayer, masks have been revised several times over the last three months.