QUARANTINE - DAY 2 - 7th March 2020
The streets of Bethlehem are deserted. These streets would normally be thronging with tourists but since the lockdown Bethlehem is quiet.
A quick clarification from yesterday's email - Amira Musallam is Amwaj coordinator and rumours circulating that she had the virus were proved wrong.
Latest advice to people in Bethlehem this evening was that all should stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary. No gatherings should take place. Having spoken to many people across Bethlehem today it seems that everyone is very anxious. It is hard to understand why they are under such strict lockdown. This is the year of Bethlehem Arab Capital of Culture 2020 - where plans have been made for events throughout the city, an opening ceremony in April and celebrations. For now the culture activity of Bethlehem is on hold..
Understandably some residents have asked for anonymity.
A mother of a young child has written of her life today in Bethlehem during this time..
Since i dont have a job (yet), i didnt feel any big changes. Also, my husband is self employed, so it didnt affect him either. The supermarket near our house hasnt closed yet, so we luckily we can still go there to get the important things like food.
It affects me that people around me are very worried and some of them even scared. The streets are empty, which is very unusual for a city like Bethlehem. Tourists in and around Bethlehem are usually a window to the world for Palestinians, that is one way for them to tell the world their story. People are trying to be very careful and everyone has advice on how to protect themselves and prevent the virus. The atmosphere has changed- I'm used to Palestinians taking things lightly (compared to Europeans), but this time they are not taking any chances. Generally the whole quarantine annoys me - Bethlehem of all cities in the world doesnt need to feel more restricted. You would think that the israili apartheid was enough. ...They will get past this.
Of course people are worried, but thats not what people are talking about. They are focusing on the virus, trying to get to know everything there is about it. Nobody is talking about the food... Yet. At least i havent heard any one but myself worry about food. I guess, they have been through worse before.
Just a couple of days before all this started, i went shopping (a lot) so we have a lot of rice and spaghetti etc. But of course, the fridge needs to be filled all the time, so we are happy, that our supermarket is still open, and we are able to get the important things. My husband on the other hand, went buying the whole bakery- he came home with lots and lots of bread and cake. My son is staying home with me the next 30 days because his kindergarten (also schools, universities etc) is closed for the next 30 days. It does affect me as a mother, because not only am i worried about myself but also about my son. Also, in such situations i realize that i am far away from home (my other home is in Europe), because if something would happen to us i would prefer to be treated in Europe (because of the limited resources in this country) that is how it worries me as a mum.