Either way, infection rates are still high in the occupied territories and vaccination rates are low — and that has limited the number of Palestinian Christians granted permission to enter Jerusalem for Easter this year. A spokesperson for the Israeli government declined to reveal the final number.

“Without permits, we cannot come,” said the Rev. Jamal Khader, the Roman Catholic parish priest in Ramallah. “It’s a sign of the continuous presence of occupation and the limitations on movement.”

But Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection still provide spiritual nourishment for a despondent population, said Father Khader, who is allowed to enter Jerusalem through his work with the church.

“We identify with the sufferings of Christ on Good Friday,” he said.

“Then,” he added, “we find some hope on Easter Sunday.”

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Indonesia Church Rocked by Explosion on Palm Sunday

An explosion ripped through a Roman Catholic cathedral compound in the eastern Indonesian city of Makassar on Sunday morning, shattering the calm of Palm Sunday, a holy day for Christians.

Unverified video said to have been taken at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral showed smoldering wreckage and palm fronds scattered on the ground.

Father Wilhelmus Tulak, a priest at the cathedral, told Metro TV, an Indonesian network, that a parking attendant had been burned as he tried to stop a suicide bomber. Ten people were injured, the priest said.

The cathedral was between Masses when two motorcyclists approached, looking suspicious, Father Wilhelmus told Metro TV.

three Christian churches were bombed in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, leaving a dozen bystanders dead. The suicide bombers were a married couple and their four children. Within days, members of two other families also set off bombs in Surabaya, blowing themselves up.

Last year, a Roman Catholic cathedral was bombed for the third time on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines, killing at least 14 people. As with the Surabaya bombings, a local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for that strike. A 2019 suicide attack on the same cathedral, which killed more than 20 people, was carried out by an Indonesian couple.

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Denmark Extends Its Suspension of the AstraZeneca Vaccine

Denmark will extend its suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine until April 15, the Danish Health Authority announced on Thursday, as other European countries are restarting use of the vaccine.

Officials in Denmark want to further investigate whether AstraZeneca vaccine is the cause of an unusual disease picture involving low blood platelets, bleeding and blood clots in unexpected places in the body, the head of the Danish Health Authority, Soren Brostrom, said.

The European Medical Agency, the continent’s top drug regulator, said last week that it had found no sign of the vaccine causing such rare but dangerous problems, and strong evidence that its lifesaving benefits “outweigh the risk of the side effects.”

The agency announced on Thursday that it was convening a group of external medical experts to help assess the safety of the vaccine.

Denmark was the first country to suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, on March 11. It has reported two deaths from brain hemorrhages among people who had received the shot.

Officials acknowledged that continuing the suspension would lead to delays in the vaccination process.

“We are very conscious that a continued hold on vaccination with the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca delays the Danish vaccination program,” Mr. Brostrom said. “However, the vaccines are already in the refrigerator. If we decide to recommence vaccination with the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, we can quickly distribute and use the vaccines.”

The health authorities in Sweden, which last week suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Thursday that the country would resume its use for people over 65.

In other developments around the world:

  • Schools in Romania will close for four weeks starting next month as the Eastern European country fights to curb its latest wave of Covid-19 cases. Most schools will close from April 2 to May 4, Sorin Cimpeanu, Romania’s education minister, said on Thursday, extending the usual break for Orthodox and Catholic Easter.

  • Travelers flying to Germany will need to show proof they tested negative for Covid-19 before boarding flights starting on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said on Thursday. Germans rushed to book flights and hotels in Portugal and Spain for Easter and Holy Week holidays after the government took those nations off its “at risk” list that require people to quarantine upon return to Germany.

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Merkel Reverses Easter Shutdown Plan in Germany

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday scrapped an unpopular plan to shut the German economy for two extra days over Easter, apologizing for what she called “a mistake” amid widespread anger over her government’s increasingly chaotic approach to combating the coronavirus.

The chancellor’s reversal came less than 36 hours after she proposed two additional “off days” around Easter, effectively extending the existing holiday to five consecutive days in hopes of halting a spike in coronavirus infections. The suggestion — made after nearly 12 hours of deliberations between Ms. Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states — was met with an almost immediate backlash because it would have required businesses to close.

Faced with criticism from both her own conservative bloc and from opposition politicians, along with a flood of complaints from a public worn out by 12 months of lockdowns and reopenings, the chancellor called a quick news conference and announced her decision to reverse course.

wrote on Twitter, urging the chancellor to reverse course.

“There is growing concern across the economy about long-lasting, irreparable damage,” said Siegfried Russwurm, president of the powerful B.D.I. association of German industries. He stressed the need for a “coherent pandemic concept” and urged leaders to factor more than the number of infections into their risk calculations.

cleared it for use.

The suspension set Germany back several days in its vaccine campaign and further weakened trust in AstraZeneca. The company’s vaccine was already suffering from an image problem in Germany after experts initially limited its use to adults 64 and younger, citing a lack of information on the effects in older people. That decision was reversed several weeks later.

Despite the frustrations, many Germans realize the only way to stop the virus from spreading is to reduce contact between people and retreat again to their homes. As onerous as that idea may be after a year of restrictions, nearly a third of Germans surveyed last week said the government’s measures had not gone far enough.

The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since early March. Many intensive care stations have no more than two beds free.

“I think they’re not focusing enough on the long term goals and too much on details and formalities,” said Anni Koch, 24. “We might need to go through another full lockdown, which would be annoying, but maybe necessary.”

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting.

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Merkel Drops Easter Shutdown as Germany Flails Against Virus Surge

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel scrapped an unpopular plan on Wednesday to shut down the German economy for two extra days over the Easter holidays, reversing her own policy as her government faces widespread anger over its chaotic moves to combat a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Her about-face came less than 36 hours after she had proposed declaring April 1 and 3 “off days,” to effectively extend the country’s Easter vacation to five consecutive days in hopes of halting a recent spike in infections.

The suggestion — made after nearly 12 hours of deliberations between Ms. Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states that dragged into the early hours of Tuesday — was met with an almost immediate backlash, including sharp criticism from opposition politicians and a flood of complaints from a public worn out by a seemingly endless roller coaster of lockdowns and reopenings.

“It was a mistake,” the chancellor said, adding that the suggestion had been made with the best of intentions, aimed at slowing the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in Britain, which has been spreading through Germany. That spread has been aided by a sluggish vaccine rollout: Barely 10 percent of German adults have received their first shot, nearly three months after a vaccine developed by a German start-up, BioNTech, became the first in the world to receive approval.

cleared it for use.

Yet despite the confusion created by the suggestion of extending the holidays, some acknowledged that simply going back on the plan would do little to help the country slow the spread of the coronavirus. Germany saw 15,813 new infections on Wednesday, continuing a sharp rise over recent weeks.

“Instead of more protection against the third wave, we now have less!” said Janosch Dahmen, a medical doctor who serves as a lawmaker for the Greens, said on Twitter. “The extended break over Easter is now off the table. Even if it was half-baked, today’s decision made fight against the virus worse, even though it tried to make it better.”

In other news around the world:

  • Belgium will tighten restrictions on Friday as it faces rising numbers of hospitalizations and new cases. Hairdressers and beauty salons will be closed until April 25, and other nonessential businesses will be allowed to open to the public only by appointment. Alexander de Croo, the country’s prime minister, called the new measures “an Easter break.” Schools’ spring break will be extended by one week, so students will not return to in-person instruction until April 19.

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Europe Lifts Vaccine Suspension as Virus Surge Brings New Lockdowns

Governments across Europe raced on Friday to lift suspensions on the AstraZeneca vaccine and reassure an exhausted and anxious public that it was safe amid a new wave of infections that led many countries to reimpose harsh restrictions on movement and businesses.

German officials warned that plans to ease restrictions by Easter would have to be put on hold and said that more measures might be needed in the weeks ahead. Paris was one of many cities across France where people were essentially ordered to stay at home. Italy entered its third national lockdown on Monday, and Poland will put in place its own lockdown on Saturday.

The rapid moves to tighten what were already relatively stringent restrictions came as nearly every country in Europe that had halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine — including France, Germany Italy and Spain — said they would start using it again.

But the brief halt in the use of the vaccine underscored the slow pace of mass inoculation campaigns, which led officials to warn that the only way to control the virus was to impose restrictions.

900,000 last week, according to the World Health Organization. But this spring, it was supposed to be different.

Vaccines are rolling out, albeit at a halting pace. They are effective. They can stop serious illness and death. And for the vast majority of people in Europe, and around the world, they are agonizingly out of reach.

three times more vaccines per 100 people than countries in the European Union — meaning that it is likely to be months rather than weeks before enough people will be inoculated for vaccines to turn the tide of the pandemic.

“There are not yet enough vaccine doses in Europe to stop the third wave by vaccination alone,” Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said on Friday. “Even if the deliveries from E.U. orders come reliably, it will still take a few weeks until the risk groups are fully vaccinated.”

The mass vaccination efforts across the European Union were thrown into deeper turmoil this week as more than a dozen countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while reports of a possible link to rare side effects involving blood clots were investigated.

On Thursday, the bloc’s medical regulator, the European Medicines Agency, said that its review came to the firm conclusion that the vaccine was “safe and effective.”

Political leaders rushed to try and undo any damage to the public’s trust and faith in AstraZeneca and vaccines more broadly — with a number of them rolling up their sleeves and getting the shots themselves to drive the point home.

reported nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, according to a New York Times database — the highest number since November, when a second wave of infection forced the entire country into lockdown.

On Friday, the authorities ordered the lockdown of Paris once again, one of many regions in the country where a weary public was told the now familiar refrain: The situation is getting worse and desperate action must be taken to keep it from deteriorating even further.

tracking coronavirus restrictions around the world, said it was remarkable how similar the pattern playing out across Europe in recent days was to the situation a year ago.

“A big question is whether people will do again in spring 2021 what they did in spring 2020,” he said.

Constant Méheut and Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting.

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