Iranian authorities have announced travel restrictions in 25 provincial capitals, including Tehran, from 1200 Nov. 2 to 2359 Nov. 6 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measures prevent nonresidents from entering and residents from leaving the cities according to their license plate numbers. Public transportation and commercial vehicles, however, are exempt from the restrictions.
Authorities will also impose additional restrictions in these 25 provincial capitals and 46 other cities from Nov. 4 through at least Nov. 13. Only essential jobs such as emergency services, service and security centers, supermarkets, and bakeries can continue to operate. Nonessential venues such as malls, religious centers, educational institutions, and sports centers must close during this period. Meanwhile, the restrictions imposed in 43 cities Oct. 26 will now remain through at least Nov. 9.
In Tehran Province, authorities have reduced employees' capacity at government workplaces to 50 percent through at least Nov. 20. All educational institutions, places of worship, libraries, museums, theaters, gyms, cafes, reception halls, zoos, swimming pools, and hair salons remain closed. All social gatherings, including weddings, funeral wakes, and Friday prayers, are also prohibited. Additionally, the wearing of facemasks in public remains mandatory; individuals who violate the order will be subject to fines.
Similar closures and restrictions are in place throughout most of the country, especially in provinces with high COVID-19 rates. The Ministry of Health has 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. Zones with more than three COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population are categorized as red, while white zones have less than one. As of Nov. 2, authorities have classified 27 of the country's 31 provinces as red.
- The passenger capacity of domestic airlines is limited to 60 percent per safe distancing guidelines.
- International flights remain operational; however, authorities have halted issuing tourist visas since Aug. 1, effectively banning all leisure travel to the country. Travelers to Iran - both citizens and foreign nationals - must submit a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 96 hours before boarding. Citizens who have not taken the test will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at a government-designated site at their own cost. Authorities will deny entry to foreign nationals arriving without a negative COVID-19 test.
Iranian authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming 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.