Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Iran to reopen museums and historical sites nationwide from May 24 amid a gradual easing of COVID-19-related restrictions.

This alert affects Iran

This alert began 23 May 2020 18:31 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Iranian authorities will reopen museums and historical sites nationwide May 24 amid an easing of restrictions related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This move will coincide with celebrations for Eid Al-Fitr (the Feast of Breaking the Ramadan Fast), a holiday that marks the end of the Islamic calendar's holy month of Ramadan. Shrines will reopen nationwide for three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening beginning May 25. However, authorities did not specify precise hours of operation. Worshippers must adhere to strict social distancing regulations and wear mandatory face masks and gloves. All workers throughout Iran are expected to return to their jobs May 30. Restaurants are scheduled to reopen after Ramadan and sports activities will resume without spectators. Universities, except for medical schools, will reopen nationwide June 6.

Iranian authorities previously reopened mosques nationwide May 12 through at least the end of Ramadan. Mosques must adhere to health measures such as safe social distancing. Before that, only mosques in cities designated as White zones were permitted to reopen. The Ministry of Health had divided the country into White, Yellow, and Red zones depending on the COVID-19 fatality rate and extent of the outbreak, with White being the lowest threat. Schools in White Zones reopened May 16. Restrictions in Yellow and Red zones remain in effect. Authorities have urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel during Eid Al-Fitr because moving between the zones increases the risk for all people.

Officials lifted an intercity travel ban and permitted shopping malls and bazaars to reopen nationwide April 20. President Hassan Rouhani stated that shopping malls and bazaars are required to close by 1800 daily. Authorities also permitted many stand-alone shops, factories, and workshops to reopen in the capital Tehran from April 18 after they reopened elsewhere throughout the country April 11. Many government offices also reopened on April 11.

A full lockdown was implemented in Abadan County and numerous cities throughout Khuzestan Province, through May 15. All shops and offices except for essential services closed. Authorities also closed access to Abadan from the Ahvaz and Bandar Mahshahr points of entry. Iranian authorities could implement similar restrictions depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks. Large public gatherings are banned. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have banned travel to and from Iran.

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.

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.

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