Government employees went back to work in Iran on Saturday and President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, even though some areas are seeing high levels of coronavirus infections.
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Rouhani also said on state television that the hours of shopping malls, which had been allowed to open only until 6 p.m., will be extended, a further step in the government’s plans to ease coronavirus restrictions.
“Doors to mosques across the country will open to public for daily prayers,” Rouhani said, adding that social distancing and other health protocols should be observed. He did not say when they are due to reopen.
Authorities are taking tougher measures to ensure that health regulations are observed, including barring commuters not wearing masks from buses and metro trains, Iranian media reported.
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Alireza Zali, head of the government-led Coronavirus Taskforce of Tehran, told state TV the situation in the capital was “still not favorable,” adding that the easing of restrictions should be accompanied by “more serious observance” of regulations.
As of Friday, Iran had recorded 146,668 infections, with 7,677 deaths.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said Friday there had been no deaths in the previous 24 hours in 15 of the country’s provinces and one in each of five provinces.
The provinces of Khuzestan in the southwest, and Baluchistan in the southeast of the country, have been declared “red” areas where there are still high levels of infection.
The health ministry has divided the country into white, yellow and red areas based on the number of infections and deaths.