Christianity's most joyous feast day was celebrated worldwide with the faithful spaced apart in pews and singing choruses of "Hallelujah" through face coverings on a second Easter Sunday marked by pandemic precautions. In vast cathedrals, on beaches and in fields, worshippers followed regulations on the coronavirus, the AP reports. In some European countries, citizens lined up on Easter for their turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In the Lombardy region of Italy, where the pandemic first erupted in the West, a hospital gave a traditional dove-shaped Easter cake symbolizing peace to each person waiting to get vaccinated. Intent on tamping down weeks of surging infections, the Italian government ordered people to stay home for the three-day weekend except for essential errands. A soccer team in Lyon, France, opened its stadium as a vaccination center. Some 9,000 people were expected to receive shots there over three days as the French government tries to speed up vaccinations during a fresh outbreak of infections.
In the Holy Land, coronavirus restrictions prevented foreign pilgrims from religious sites in Jerusalem during Holy Week. Pope Francis lamented that the pandemic has kept many churchgoers from services. In Syria, where a national vaccination program has yet to begin, people at Lady of Damascus Church prayed for a way out of the economic and political crisis, only worsened by the pandemic. "We came to the church for Easter so we get rid of the pandemic that we are in," Bassam Assaf said. The pandemic kept Seville's Brotherhood of the Holy Resurrection from sending its ornate Easter float, bearing a towering statue of Jesus, through the streets of the Spanish city; the Brotherhood instead posted videos from the last procession, two years ago. Yoido Full Gospel Church, South Korea's biggest Protestant church, let only about 2,000 people in, 17% of capacity. Hundreds of Catholics gathered in the mammoth Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening. Every other pew was kept empty, and masks were mandatory. Still, the solemn liturgy marked a new, hopeful beginning for the congregation after a turbulent year. (The pope's Easter sermon included an angry denunciation.)