QUARANTINE - DAY 26 - 31st March 2020
Now most of the world is experiencing the same concerns after several weeks of being quarantined in their homes. Speaking to a friend today who lives in Florence: "I'm in a one bed apartment with no balcony but at least it is on the top floor and I can just about climb out onto the roof, although it's a little precarious. This is week four for us. We can go out but only within a 200m radius of home - fortunately there's a fruit and veg shop on my street. You need permission if you need to go further for food. And now there's a 'minimum amount' you have to buy in shops to justify being out."
Many people globally are struggling to stay inside. An Italian newspaper reports that, "Animals have frequently been employed as excuses to leave the house. The Mayor of Fossano, in Piedmont, has described seeing cats taken for walks on a lead, while a young man in Rome reportedly stated he was "feeding the pigeons."
Among the most common excuses , however, is the "incontinent" dog who, despite seeming exhausted, is in desperate need of his fifth walk of the day.
On the other hand, residents of Bethlehem are taking their civic responsibilities seriously. In the village of Artas on the edge of Bethlehem, a small wedding celebration was held yesterday:
After months of planning, Amer and Rawan decided that they would hold a smaller ceremony with close family members instead of a large event with friends and family. The normal procedure is to apply for the appropriate Islamic wedding papers two months in advance of the cermony.
Amer said: "After the spread of Corona's disease in my hometown, Bethlehem, I decided, after consulting my family and fiancée, to postpone the celebrations for several months." He added that "this is a social responsibility, and there is a fear of the spread of the disease during gatherings, including weddings. I had two options: either to postpone the wedding further or celebrate it on a smaller scale. After much thought I decided to do the wedding alone without an official ceremony." Amer explained that if he decided to wait until after Ramadan (which starts in a few weeks time and will end in May) and if the virus continues to spread, it might lead to the collapse of all his plans for the wedding, and that is what forced him to celebrate it today.
Amer and Rawan's predicament is not the only one being faced by young couples in Bethlehem, as dozens of young people have also decided to postpone their weddings in Bethlehem and beyond, and a few are settling on small celebrations like Amer and Rawan.
At the beginning of March, the Palestinian Authority declared a state of emergency in the West Bank, and closed schools, universities and kindergartens for a month, as well as events such as weddings, sports events, festivals and conferences. Palestinian authorities announced later in a separate press statement the closure of wedding halls, cafes and sports venues, as part of the measures to combat coronavirus. Large numbers of security service personnel have been deployed in and around the city to enforce this.
Commenting on the events in Palestine and the spread of the coronavirus, the brother of the bride said, "I decided with my sister to cancel the wedding ceremony, and to limit it to a small ceremony at home." He explained that the invitees are only close relatives of his family.
Haitham, the brother of the bride, announced the cancellation of the wedding ceremony on his Facebook page, adding: "Thank you to all who have congratulated us over the internet."
A decade ago, Palestinians used to hold weddings at home, before wedding halls became preferred venues. Since the outbreak of the virus, many have returned to this tradition.
Photos and wedding story courtesy of Mohamed Abu Haniyeh