Monkey Business at Banksy's Bethlehem Hotel Masks Coronavirus Fears

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A member of staff wears a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus as a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy with a mask is seen at the entrance of The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 5, 2020
A member of staff wears a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus as a statue of a chimpanzee bell-boy with a mask at the entrance of The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, March 5, 2020Credit: REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

British artist Banksy's hotel in Bethlehem brought a touch of humour to the West Bank town by strapping a surgical mask to the model monkey bellhop at its entrance as coronavirus fears grip residents and tourists.

Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity was ordered closed on Thursday and foreign tourists were banned from West Bank hotels after four suspected coronavirus cases were found in the Palestinian town.

Monkeys are a common motif in Banksy's work, and The Walled Off Hotel, which abuts Israel's concrete West Bank barrier, features a model of a monkey wearing a bellhop's red jacket and hat and carrying luggage at its main door. It now also has a face mask over its visage.

On its website, the hotel advised guests that "certain countries" have been banned from entering Palestine and Israel due to the virus, and to check online prior to traveling.

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