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Pope greets public again with wide distancing

“In the square again!” Francis said. He appeared on the first Sunday since the Rome area regained Italy’s "yellow zone’’ designation, which carries the least restrictions on movement.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has resumed greeting the public in St. Peter’s Square, seven weeks after he interrupted the Sunday noon ritual to discourage crowds from gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smiling broadly, Francis appeared at an Apostolic Palace window overlooking the square and greeted a couple of hundred people standing a safe distance apart in the cobblestone square. Most held umbrellas on a drizzly, windy day.

“In the square again!” Francis said. He appeared on the first Sunday since the Rome area regained Italy’s “yellow zone’’ designation, which carries the least restrictions on movement.

Normally thousands of pilgrims, tourists and locals would turn out in the vast square on Sundays to hear the pope. But Italy isn’t allowing travel between regions in the country, and with stringent measures discouraging arrivals from overseas, tourism and pilgrimages have practically evaporated.

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