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11 Apr 2020 | 10:03 PM UTC

Iran: Partial relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions April 11/ /update 19

President Rouhani announces partial relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as some government offices allowed to reopen on April 11; follow official directives

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Event

Iranian authorities announced on Saturday, April 11, that some government offices will be allowed to reopen nationwide, with the exception of those in Tehran province. The relaxation comes one week after authorities ordered most government agencies and all non-essential businesses to close for a week, beginning on April 4, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. A third of all employees are said to still be working from home, with women who have young children given priority in deciding whether to work remotely. Despite the easing in restrictions, President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to continue respecting the health protocols in place to guard against the virus. In Tehran, government offices and businesses will be allowed to reopen on April 18, provided they follow guidelines on social distancing and register with authorities.

Earlier on Sunday, April 5, President Hassan Rouhani announced the partial resumption of economic activity nationwide except in Tehran province beginning Saturday, April 11. "Low-risk" sectors will resume, though Rouhani did not specify what those sectors are. The Chamber of Trade Unions separately stated that outdoor restaurants are allowed to operate. Government administration buildings will have reduced hours, from 07:00 to 14:00 (local time), and two thirds of the staff will be permitted to enter their offices. "High risk" sectors, identified as restaurants, saunas, shopping malls, sports centers, swimming pools, and crowded centers, will remain closed until further notice. In addition, schools and large gatherings remain suspended. Such economic activity in Tehran province will resume as of Saturday, April 18.

Riots at prisons, which saw the destruction of surveillance cameras, clashes among prisoners and police, and the escape of 70 inmates at Saqqez Prison in Kurdistan Province, have been reported. The violence reportedly took place due to the COVID-19 outbreak amid a new state policy to release an estimated 100,000 non-violent prisoners to curb the virus' spread in prisons.

As of Thursday, March 26, an intercity travel ban is in place in efforts to curb the spread of the virus nationwide. Officials stated that a second outbreak is possible in the country, and citizens are therefore called upon to return to their home cities and remain there. Shopping centers in the capital Tehran were initially closed on Sunday, March 22. Only pharmacies and shops that provide essential goods will be allowed to remain open. Entry into the provinces of Golestan, Mazandaran, Guilan, Ardabil, Zanjan, Hamedan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, and Kerman is prohibited except for residents.

As of Thursday, April 9, there are 64,586 COVID-19 cases including 3993 deaths and 29,812 recoveries nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.