Authorities in Iran reduce capacity on domestic airlines and in workplaces in Tehran Province as of Oct. 23 to limit spread of COVID-19.
The Iranian Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has reduced the passenger capacity of domestic airlines as of Oct. 23 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All planes can operate at a maximum of 60-percent capacity according to safe distancing guidelines. In Tehran Province, authorities have reduced the capacity of employees 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 Friday prayers, are also prohibited. Additionally, the wearing of facemasks in public remains mandatory; individuals who violate the mandate 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 Oct. 23, authorities have classified 27 of the country's 31 provinces as red. Authorities also plan to impose additional restrictions on 43 red cities from Oct. 26 but have not specified the measures.
Authorities had previously eased the following COVID-19-related restrictions:
- Restaurants can accept customers but must continue to abide by safe distancing protocols.
- Shopping malls and bazaars can remain open.
- 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, are required to 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.
- Foreign nationals arriving without a negative COVID-19 test will be denied entry.
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.