TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iran laid down conditions for worshippers on Monday as mosques reopened in parts of the country deemed at low risk from the novel coronavirus.
Mosques and some holy shrines in Iran were closed in early March amid the conditions of deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in West Asia.
Mosques were allowed to reopen to worshippers in 132, or around a third, of Iran’s administrative divisions which are considered low-risk areas.
The country has started using a color-coded system of “white”, “yellow” and “red” for different areas to classify the virus risk.
In the areas where mosques reopen, worshippers must maintain social distancing, wear masks and gloves, stay only for half an hour during prayer times, and must use their personal items, said the Health Ministry on Monday.
Mosques must also refrain from offering food and drinks, give out hand sanitizers and disinfect all surfaces, it said in a statement.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday the reopening is part of a broader plan to ease restrictions.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour on Monday announced another 74 deaths from the disease.
Jahanpour said the new fatalities brought to 6,277 the total number officially recorded in Iran since it reported its first cases in mid-February.
That was a jump in deaths compared with 47 on Sunday, which was the lowest daily count that Iran has recorded in 55 days.
Another 1,223 cases of COVID-19 infections were recorded in the past 24 hours, Jahanpour said, raising the total to 98,647.
According to Jahanpour, 79,397 of those hospitalized with the disease since Iran reported its first cases in mid-February have been discharged, while 2,676 are in critical condition.
He declared that Iran was among “top five countries in the world” with the highest number of recoveries.
Iran has tried to contain the spread of the virus by shutting universities, cinemas, stadiums, and other public spaces since March.
But the government has allowed a phased reopening of its economy since April 11, arguing that the sanctions-hit country cannot afford to remain shut down.
Iran has already lifted a ban on intercity trips and malls, with large shopping centers resuming activities despite warnings by some health officials of a new wave of infections.
Only “high-risk” businesses like gyms and barbershops remain closed.
School and university closures were maintained and cultural and sports gatherings are also still banned, though Rouhani said the plan is for some schools to reopen soon.
The coronavirus taskforce was mulling over reopening schools by May 16 to allow for a month of classes before the summer break.
AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.
- source : Iran Daily, Irannews