Iran to ease restrictions on economic activities

TEHRAN, Oct. 14, 2019 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 14, 2019. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that his country does not endorse Turkey’s approach to the current issues in northern Syria. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua/IANS)

Tehran, April 11 (IANS) Under the decisions by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s administration and the National Headquarters to fight the coronavirus pandemic, parts of the country’s restrictions on economic activities will be eased from Saturday onwards.

On Friday, Rouhani said that Iran’s new smart social distancing plan was a double-edged policy aimed at starting over low-risk economic activities while maintaining the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

Under the new plan of smart social distancing, certain sectors of the economy, which Rouhani refers to as low-risk businesses, will be restarted.

“With the protection of health as a priority and with all the necessary health protocols, we must adopt measures to move the wheel of the economy,” Rouhani said.

Under the new plan “two thirds of all government employees will work in the office from Saturday”, the Iranian president added.

“Risky businesses like sports centres and activities that require a large population involvement are still banned until further notice,” he noted.

Anyone who tests positive for the novel coronavirus is obliged to inform his manager and put himself under a two-week self-quarantine, Rouhani said.

In line with the implementation of the smart social distancing plan, Tehran Crisis Management and Prevention Organization has also decided that all inhabitants of the capital would undergo mandatory tests for the symptoms of novel coronavirus.

However, the ease of restrictions on certain economic activities raised concerns for possible COVID-19 resurgence.

Alireza Zali, head of the task force for implementing the quarantine plan in Tehran, warned on Tuesday that Iran has not reached “the phase of controlling this virus”.

“The coronavirus has just reached the pandemic stage in Tehran,” he said.

Media reports suggested last week that while the ministry of industry urged the resumption of economic activities in the country, the ministry of health opposed the idea, insisting on the maintenance of implementation of a full social distancing plan.

Reopening of business “will quickly engulf the health system and consequently the country’s economy … which might do irreparable harm”, Minister of Health and Medical Education Saeed Namaki said last week.

With a population of over 82 million, Iran announced the first COVID-19 cases on February 19, and has since recorded the highest number of infections and deaths in the Middle East region.

Iran has so far reported 68,192 COVID-19 cases, with 4,232 deaths.

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