Coronavirus: Syria loosens lockdown as number of infections continues to surge

Published: Updated:

Syrian authorities loosened coronavirus lockdown restrictions on Tuesday by canceling a nighttime curfew, allowing travel between provinces and announcing a reopening of mosques, state media said.

The decision comes as the war-torn country grapples with a crippling economic crisis and official cases of the COVID-19 respiratory disease continue to rise.

Damascus has announced 121 cases, including four deaths in government-held areas.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

In the Kurdish-run northeast, the United Nations has recorded six cases including one death.

In March, the Syrian government introduced a series of confinement measures to stem the spread of the virus.

On Monday night, the government said it would completely cancel nighttime curfews starting Tuesday, allow travel between provinces and allow shops and malls to open from 8.00am to 7.00pm, during summer, state news agency SANA said.

On Tuesday, the endowments ministry announced that mosques would be allowed to fully reopen starting on Wednesday after a temporary ban on public prayers because of COVID-19, according to SANA.

Syria’s borders, however, remain closed.

The government started to gradually loosen restrictions last month to help salvage an economy strangled by Western sanctions and nine years of war.

The country’s economic woes include soaring inflation, high unemployment and a hefty depreciation of the Syrian pound.

President Bashar al-Assad in early May warned of a "catastrophe" if the easing of lockdown measures is mishandled.

Read more:

Coronavirus: Syria eases COVID-19 curbs, new cases jump after expats return

Link between Lebanon and Syria's economies spells disaster for both

Coronavirus: Syria records 20 new cases, its largest single-day increase yet