Coronavirus: Iran to open mosques in over 100 cities on Monday, says Hassan Rouhani

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Mosques in over 100 Iranian cities will be reopened from Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

Iran first cancelled Friday prayers at mosques in late February, days after reports began to surface that the number of coronavirus cases in the country was far higher than the official tally, with religious sites subsequently closed in March. As of Saturday, 6,156 people in Iran have died from the virus, with 96,448 confirmed cases.

Although the number of cases is still rising in Iran, it now appears that officials will be reopening some mosques to the public.

“Mosques of 132 cities deemed low-risk will be reopened tomorrow with the observance of health protocols,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Friday prayers will also be held in these cities from this week, Rouhani added.

The government planned to assess the possibility of reopening religious sites in the second half of May, but the date was brought forward at the request of the head of Iran’s religious seminaries Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, Rouhani had previously said.

There were concerns about a clash between religion and science during the coronavirus pandemic, Rouhani said, adding that the clergy prevented any clashes by intervening.

Schools in “white areas” will also reopen from May 16, he said.

Authorities in Iran have divided the country’s provinces into white, yellow and red areas, depending on the severity of the coronavirus crisis. White areas are deemed “low-risk.”

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