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White dress and matching mask: Palestinians brave virus to wed

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Bethlehem (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

A wedding in the West Bank on Friday saw a twist on a familiar scene: the Palestinian bride wore a long white dress, but with a matching face mask and gloves to protect against the novel coronavirus.

As the COVID-19 illness sweeps the globe, public events have been cancelled in droves, including many weddings.

Those seeking to plough ahead with their nuptials have had to radically alter their plans.

Baraa Amarneh and her fiance, Imad Sharaf, decided to carry on with their wedding, despite the bride coming from Bethlehem, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank.

Almost all of the 48 COVID-19 cases among Palestinians have been in the Bethlehem governorate.

The couple's wedding had been planned months in advance and Sharaf, 25, said they decided not to postpone to show fellow Palestinians that life could continue, despite the pandemic.

The city where Christians believe Jesus was born has been under lockdown, with no one allowed in or out without a permit, for more than two weeks.

Sharaf, who comes from a village near Hebron, around 20 kilometres south of Bethlehem, had to get special government permission to enter the city to pick up Amarneh and bring her to his hometown for the wedding on Friday.

The ceremony was supposed to include dozens of guests, but in the end, the bride and groom were flanked by just a few family members each, standing at a safe distance.

"The conditions and the spread of the virus meant we had to marry without guests and without anyone except my family and the bride's family," Sharaf said.

As Amarneh has left the locked down area and is therefore considered at risk of having contracted the disease, she will now have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Sharaf said that wouldn't be a problem, treating it as a staycation honeymoon.

"We are talking about 14 days. I would stay in quarantine with my wife a month or more."

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