Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Iranian authorities lift intercity travel ban and permit shopping centers to reopen April 20 amid a gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

This alert affects Iran

This alert began 20 Apr 2020 18:21 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Start Time/Date: April 20
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Iranian authorities lifted an intercity travel ban and permitted shopping malls and bazaars to reopen nationwide from April 20 amid an easing of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related restrictions. Presidents Hassan Rouhani stated that shopping malls and bazaars are required to close by 1800 daily. Authorities previously permitted many stand-alone shops, factories, and workshops to reopen in the capital Tehran from April 18 after they reopened elsewhere throughout the country from April 11. Many government offices reopened April 11.

Restaurants, gyms, theaters, beauty salons, and other businesses deemed by the government to be "high-risk" remain closed until further notice. Mosques and shrines will remain shut through at least May 4. Schools and universities also remain closed. Public gatherings are banned. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have banned travel to and from Iran. Iranian authorities could further ease COVID-related restrictions or reinstate them depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Iran correspond with similar actions taken by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.