Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the Sea of Saint Mark, led the Palm Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, the martyr Abi Sven and Saint Anba Karas in Alexandria amid tight coronavirus precautionary measures.
The attendees of the mass wore facemasks and kept physical distance at only 25 percent capacity of the church.
Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels, when he was received by the people of Jerusalem with palm leaves.
The Palm Sunday – which is featured by vendors selling palm fronds on streets – witnesses the Copts' last sayyami lunch where sugar is permitted on the table.
According to the traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the faithful start a totally vegan fast 55 days ahead of the Easter Sunday. For the last week, devout Copts refrain from eating desserts and fruits. Some also observe a dawn to dusk fast that is followed by a vegan meal.
The Palm Sunday marks the first day of the Holy Week that also has Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, which is Easter’s eve — when Copts usually go to church before gathering at night to celebrate and break their 55-day fast.
All precautionary measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the religious festival.
The majority of dioceses will adopt a set of precautionary measures against the pandemic, including holding masses at a capacity of 25 percent of the congregation and giving access to people who reserve a place in the church in advance.
However, according to a statement, congregants are not allowed to attend masses during Palm Sunday and the whole Holy Week at more than 18 dioceses in 13 Egyptian governorates over coronavirus concerns.
This is the second year in a row for Copts to celebrate Palm Sunday amid coronavirus restrictions.
Last year's Pam Sunday mass was held at Saint Pishoy Monastery in Wadi El-Natroun, Behaira, without audience due to restrictions over the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Egypt – which exceeded the 900-mark daily coronavirus cases on Saturday for the first time in months – has so far reported 221,570 infections, including 166,457 recoveries and 12,998 deaths.