Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: Authorities in Iran to temporarily reopen mosques nationwide from May 12. Other COVID-19-related restrictions remain.
This alert affects Iran
This alert began 12 May 2020 04:19 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Start Time/Date: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security
Iranian authorities will temporarily reopen mosques and religious sites nationwide from May 12 as part of measures to ease coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. The decision coincides with the last 10 days of Ramadan, a holy time for Muslims. Mosques can carry out religious rituals but must ensure that health measures such as safe social distancing are in place. Officials have not specified if the decision will extend beyond Ramadan.
Previously, only mosques in cities designated as White zones reopened. 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 the White Zones are due to reopen May 16. Restrictions in Yellow and Red zones remain in effect.
A full lockdown is in place in Abadan County, Khuzestan Province, through at least May 15. All shops and offices in the county, except essential services, will close during this period. Authorities also closed access to Abadan from the Ahvaz and Bandar Mahshahr points of entry. The closure of shops and offices also applies to nine other cities in Khuzestan Province: Ahvaz, Karun, Bavi, Hamidiyeh, Dezful, Masjed Soleyman, Shushtar, Hoveyzeh, and Hendijan.
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 April 11.
Restaurants, gyms, theaters, beauty salons, and other businesses deemed by the government to be "high-risk" remain closed until further notice. Large public gatherings are banned. Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, have banned travel to and from Iran. Iranian authorities could further ease COVID-19-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.
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.