COVID puts a damper on Christmas Eve again around the world

From Bethlehem and Frankfurt to London and Boston, the surging coronavirus put a damper on Christmas Eve for a second year, forcing churches to cancel or scale back services and disrupting travel plans and family gatherings.

Drummers and bagpipers marched through Bethlehem to smaller than usual crowds after new Israeli travel restrictions meant to slow the highly contagious omicron variant kept international tourists away from the town where Jesus is said to have been born.

In Germany, a line wound halfway around Cologne’s massive cathedral, not for midnight Mass but for vaccinations. The offer of shots was an expression of “care for one’s neighbor” that was consistent with the message of Christmas, cathedral provost Guido Assmann told the DPA news agency.

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