PA easing coronavirus restrictions in occupied West Bank

Palestinian Authority says time for 'gradual return to normal' as it announces reopening of shops and places of worship.

    The Ramallah-based PA declared a state of emergency in March to stem the spread of the new coronavirus [Alaa Badarneh/EPA-EFE]
    The Ramallah-based PA declared a state of emergency in March to stem the spread of the new coronavirus [Alaa Badarneh/EPA-EFE]

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced an easing of coronavirus restrictions in the occupied West Bank following a steady drop in the number of new infections.

    Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday shops and businesses will operate as normal from Tuesday, while government employees will return to work after the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Wednesday.

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    Public transport will also resume and mosques, churches and public parks will reopen, though people will have to obey physical distancing measures.

    Shtayyeh said cafes and restaurants would be allowed to serve customers again but subject to restrictions to be announced in the coming days.

    "The easing in the measures and gradual return to normal life is being taken with caution," Shtayyeh told reporters, warning that an increase in cases could lead to curbs being reinstated.

    The Ramallah-based PA declared a state of emergency in March to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. The health crisis has led to a 50 percent fall in commercial revenues in the West Bank, in a blow to an already ailing economy in which unemployment is at 17.6 percent, according to local officials.

    To date, there have been more than 400 confirmed cases in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with three deaths.

    In Gaza, which is administered by Hamas, the easing of measures began several weeks ago.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies