• Rome gears up for opening of Catholic Jubilee amid tightened security, no-fly zone

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    ROME: With a no-fly zone declared over its skies, and 3,000 army and police officers deployed throughout the city, the Italian capital gears up for the Catholic Jubilee to kick off on Tuesday, media reported Monday.

    The event is expected to draw 25 to 30 million pilgrims that would add to 16 million tourists visiting the city each year, according to local authorities.

    A special security plan was enforced since Nov. 23, two weeks before the effective launch of the event, following a raise in the terror alert already decided by the Interior Ministry in the wake of the Nov. 13 deadly attacks in Paris.

    The inauguration of the Catholic Jubilee is to be marked Tuesday morning by the opening of the so-called Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    The inflow of pilgrims and tourists into St. Peter’s Square would be funneled through 30 entrances equipped with metal detectors and body scanners, and heavily guarded by armed forces.

    St. Peter’s Square and the Spanish Steps, in the city’s historic center, were declared “areas of maximum security,” with private vehicles transit and parking banned and bus lines diverted, the technical security committee chaired by Rome’s police chief Nicolo D’Angelo stated on Monday.

    A no-fly zone over Rome’s air space is due to enter into force in the night between Monday and Tuesday, and last the whole Jubilee year, applying to drones as well.

    Some 12 emergency rooms would be operating during the Jubilee year, and at least 300 additional hospital beds were reserved for possible crisis situations.

    The security alert for the opening of the Jubilee on Tuesday was assessed by Rome’s technical committee at “level 4” (maximum level). PNA/Xinhua

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