EghtesadOnline: Iran gave the go-ahead to low-risk businesses in the country, excluding Tehran, to resume activities as per the Smart Distancing Initiative to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak while minimizing its economic fallout.
President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday called for a “coherent approach by the Health Ministry and the Interior Ministry” during the country’s shift to a new policy in the fight against the coronavirus, President.ir reported.
“Health protocols must be carefully observed at all workplaces, public spaces and especially in public transport,” the president said, following a briefing session with ministers of his Cabinet on latest developments related to the new plan, Financial Tribune reported.
Low-risk businesses have been allowed to reopen on Saturday under the direct supervision of the Health Ministry across the country, except Tehran, which can follow suit next week. Businesses eligible to open under the scheme are obliged to comply with protocols introduced by the Health Ministry or face penalty.
As of Friday, Iran detected 1,972 more coronavirus patients, bringing the total number of cases to 68,192, including 4,232 who died, up by 122 from the previous day, Health Ministry’s Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour announced.
Iran broke its 10-day successful streak of decline in the number of new coronavirus patients on Friday, registering a 20% increase in daily totals. More than 35,000 have been discharged from hospitals while nearly 4,000 are in critical condition.
Jahanpour added, “Iran has carried out 242,568 coronavirus tests countrywide.”
Iran conducts 10,000 to 15,000 coronavirus tests per day in 95 laboratories and the tests can be raised to 20,000 per day, if necessary.
The president asked Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the head of Plan and Budget Organization, to expedite cash payments to the underprivileged during a telephone conversation on Thursday.
Rouhani’s administration has prepared a coronavirus aid package totaling 250 trillion rials ($1.52 billion) that allocates 10 million rials ($60.9) to families receiving cash handouts under the subsidy reform plan.
According to the president, the 10-million-rial aid that comes with a 12% interest rate will gradually be subtracted from the monthly subsidies over a period of 24 months, starting after a four-month respite.
While all low-risk businesses can reopen by April 18, high-risk workplaces such as cultural and sport centers, beauty salons and hotels are to remain closed until further notice.
Working hours have been revised to curb exposure to the contagion and offices are to operate with only two-thirds of employees. Workplaces have been authorized to implement teleworking, especially for the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions.
More than 1.6 million people have been infected by the deadly virus that has taken the lives of over 100,000 worldwide.