EghtesadOnline: Iran relaxed more of its restrictive measures on Monday and allowed medium-risk businesses to resume operations, but extended the closure of schools, universities, mosques and holy sites.
The coronavirus taskforce, chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, announced on Sunday that medium-risk businesses such as stores can resume operations tomorrow if they respect health protocols devised by the Health Ministry, ISNA reported.
Rouhani said medium-risk businesses such as stores located in bazaars and malls can reopen, but restaurants and coffee shops in those areas must either remain closed or only accept takeout orders, Financial Tribune reported.
“Malls can only open from morning till 6 p.m.,” he added.
The working hours of shopping centers have been revised to curb the spread of the infection at a time when shoppers are most inclined to visit stores.
According to the president, the steady number of coronavirus patients and deaths indicates that Iran’s phased reopening of businesses in accordance with the Health Ministry’s strict protocols has proven successful.
Iran recorded 82,211 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday, a daily increase of 1,343, Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said, adding that 87 new deaths have brought the total toll from the pandemic to 5,118.
Hospitals across Iran have so far discharged 57,023 patients and 3,456 remain in intensive care units. Iran has carried out more than 340,000 tests to detect COVID-19 patients.
The country’s slowed pace of coronavirus transmissions and deaths allowed Turkey to overtake Iran as the worst-hit nation in the Middle East on Sunday.
Other Measures Extended
The coronavirus taskforce extended the closure of holy sites and mosques at least until May 4 when further decisions will be made.
Rouhani said, “During the month of Ramadan, religious sites attract more worshippers but we ask the public to consider the special circumstances. There will be no communal iftars [fast-breaking ceremonies].”
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is set to begin on April 25, sparking fears of increased public presence in mosques across Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have also banned religious gatherings during the month.
The coronavirus taskforce extended the furloughs of inmates to prevent a disaster in congested prisons. Iran’s temporary release of roughly 100,000 prisoners since February has now been extended until May 20.
The president noted that they have not come to any new conclusions on the opening of universities and schools, and the education centers will remain closed until further notice.
“As announced before, PhD students can physically attend classes, but others will have to pursue education via online platforms,” he said.
Rouhani reminded that the reopening of low- and medium-risk businesses across the country under its Smart Distancing Initiative should not be interpreted as having conquered the outbreak.
“We will continue to screen people. Those who test positive will lead us to others in contact with them, whom we will also test,” he said.
The respiratory illness has claimed the lives of over 160,000 worldwide and infected 2.3 million.