EghtesadOnline: Tehran’s Grand Bazaar will be closed for two weeks starting Saturday, April 10, to contain the rapid spread of Covid-19 infections.
According to Qasem Noudeh-Farahani, the head of Tehran Chamber of Guilds, aside from the Grand Bazaar, all non-essential businesses, i.e., Group II, III and IV of jobs are forced to shutter, since the capital city has been demarcated as a “red zone”.
Notably, only essential businesses categorized as Group I, including bakeries, supermarkets, grocery stores, car shops, chain stores, health and treatment centers, pharmacies, factories, transportation companies, public parking garages, military bases, post offices, internet service providers, press, nursery homes and print shops, are allowed to remain open in red zones, Fars News Agency reported.
Earlier, Iran Chamber of Guilds issued a statement expressing concerns regarding the economic implications of a new surge in Covid-19 cases, Mehr News Agency reported.
“Official figures suggest an increase in the number of new infections due to the decline in compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols during the Iranian New Year holidays. More cities and counties are falling in the high-risk red zone for coronavirus transmission and widespread closures of businesses are likely to ensue,” the statement read.
“If more cities, including Tehran, Karaj and Isfahan, move into the red zone of the country’s color-coded coronavirus framework, more than one million businesses affiliated to ICG will shut down and three million people will become jobless.”
Notably, only essential businesses categorized as Group I, including bakeries, supermarkets, grocery stores, car shops, chain stores, health and treatment centers, pharmacies and print shops, are allowed to remain open in red zones.
Fourth Wave Kicks in
Some 185 more Iranians have died from the coronavirus over the past 24 hours bringing the total deaths to 63,884, Iran's Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said on Thursday.
Sima Sadat Lari said that with the 185 new victims, the country's total Covid-19 deaths mounted to 63,884, IRNA reported.
Some 22,586 new cases of infection with the Covid-19 were found over the past 24 hours, some 2,493 of whom have been hospitalized, she added.
Lari noted that 1,684,570 patients out of a total of 2,006,934 infected people have recovered or been discharged from the hospitals.
“Some 4,221 other Covid-19 patients are in critical condition and being treated in intensive care units,” she said.
The spokeswoman noted that 13,412,327 tests have so far been carried out in Iran.
The Health Ministry earlier announced the emergence of a fourth wave of coronavirus infections in the province of Tehran, as local officials called for tightening restrictions to halt a rebound in cases.
“We’re witnessing a 37% surge in the number of hospitalized patients compared to last week,” an official with the province’s Covid-19 taskforce, Nader Tavakkoli, was quoted as saying by ISNA recently.
Tavakkoli raised concerns over the return of employees to work following the New Year holidays when millions of Iranians crisscrossed the country and intensified the virus transmission.
“To fully realize the effect of the travels on the spread of the disease, we need to wait 10 more days. What is evident to us for now is that the fourth wave of the pandemic has hit Tehran,” he said.
Iran’s New Year holidays, which began on March 21, ended on April 3.
Tehran’s Governor General Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpey pointed out that 10 cities in the province, including the capital Tehran, have been declared high-risk “red”.
“In cities color-coded as red such as Tehran, one-third of employees are required to work from home, while in ‘orange’ cities, half of the employees need to telecommute,” Bandpey said.
The official called for the strict enforcement of the law to slow transmission rates, as hospitals began to reject elective surgeries to save the dwindling number of beds for severe cases of the coronavirus.
Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced they are revising the criteria that influence the color-code assigned to a city to include factors such as the mutated Covid strain.
The British variant of the coronavirus is reported to be highly contagious, spread across western areas of Iran and moving toward the east.
Remote Working program
The remote working program of government employees will remain in place as before, i.e., the highest-ranking executive in charge of the management of the organization will decide upon the presence or teleworking of employees.
According to Alaeddin Rafizadeh, a senior official with the Administrative and Employment Affairs Organization, the bylaw on remote working of employees as per the color-coded system guides to manage Covid-19 was issued on Nov. 17, 2020, and remains in effect.
According to a government classification, colors “red”, “yellow” and “white” indicate the R value, or the number of people a patient can pass the disease to, in a respective county.
“Our emphasis is on preventing interruption of services; people must have access to essential services at all times,” he told ISNA.
The Administrative and Employment Affairs Organization has divided services into two categories: essential and normal services. In yellow zones, 100% of employees of agencies that provide essential services need to be present at the workplace. But the physical presence of employees of other agencies would be restricted to two-thirds of full capacity.
In orange zones, the physical presence of employees of agencies that provide essential services would be restricted to two-thirds of full capacity. But the physical presence of employees of other agencies would be restricted to 50% of full capacity.
In red zones, the physical presence of employees of agencies, which provide essential services would be restricted to 50%, provided that it won’t cause interruption in service delivery. The physical presence of employees of other agencies would be restricted to one-third of full capacity.
Rafizadeh noted that in all organizations, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and women with children under age six must be placed in top priority group for teleworking.