An ethnic Hutsul man, an ethnic group spanning parts of western Ukraine, plays a violin as others, all wearing traditional colorful clothes, sing a kolyada song during the Orthodox Christmas celebration near the Holy Trinity church in Iltsi village, Ivano-Frankivsk region of Western Ukraine, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, in accordance with the Julian calendar. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Although Ukraine is struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic that has inundated its overburdened medical system with patients, Thursday's Orthodox Christmas celebrations occurred widely without masks or social distancing.

In the mountain village of Iltsy, unmasked worshippers crowded a small church, where they kissed icons and later stood close together outside to watch a procession of musicians.

In the days between New Year's and Christmas, the main streets of the city of Lviv were full of celebrants, many having hot drinks outdoors and watching the passing promenade.

The country of 42 million is recording about 9,000 new COVID-19 infections a day; more than 19,500 people have died.

Ukraine will impose a wide-ranging lockdown beginning Friday, closing schools and entertainment venues and restaurant table service through Jan. 25.

But in the eyes of many, the move is disturbingly late in coming.

“Preventive and quarantine measures were necessary to prevent mass gathering of people. This hasn’t been done,” said Borys Ribun, chief of the pathology bureau in Lviv. “So I think there will be consequences”


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