DUBAI (Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani has urged Iran’s people to continue honoring ways to guard the new facility as “risky” business activities resume across the country on Saturday, state news agency IRNA said.
Businesses reportedly facing less danger – including more stores, factories and workplaces – are resuming operations across the country, with the exception of the capital Tehran, where it will reopen from April 18.
“Reducing borders does not mean ignoring the principles of health law … Public access and other policies should be highly respected by the people,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.
Many government offices have been reopened, with two-thirds of the staff to reduce overcrowding. In Qom, a city of about 1.2 million and where the coral eruption began in Iran, about 24,000 businesses are expected to reopen, TV news reported.
“We have disinfected the store and supplied gloves to customers,” a bookseller in Qom told state television.
The Islamic Republic is the Middle East country most affected by COVID-19 respiratory disease and has been fighting to stop the spread of the virus. But the government is also concerned that measures to cut public works could harm an already hit economy.
High-risk businesses including theaters, swimming pools, saunas, beauty salons, schools, shopping malls and restaurants have yet to reopen.
Schools and universities are still closed, and cultural, religious and sporting events are banned. Iran is also likely to block all public events marking the Islamic holy fast during the month of Ramadan that begins in late April.
But health officials have repeatedly complained that many Iranians have ignored home applications, warning of a second wave of outbreaks. The death toll in Iran has reached 4,357 with 70,029 cases infected.
“If people take pride in this better situation now and ignore the ways to fight the corona … we will certainly face a difficult phase (of the disease),” Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on state TV.
The media carried images of traffic congestion on the city’s Tehran highways and buses and subway cars, despite warnings by authorities that public transit is behind 20% of the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Iran has killed a post-mortem inmate who led to a mass evacuation of the prison, IRNA reported, after fears of a coronavirus outbreak led to violence in many institutions.
IRNA said the man, Manafa Salimi, was sentenced to life imprisonment for security charges including involvement in an altercation that killed two security guards 16 years ago. Salimimi’s name eventually appears on the list of Kurdish political prisoners responsible for the release issued by rights group Amnesty International.
Iran has temporarily released at least 85,000 people from prison, including political prisoners, because of the coronavirus epidemic, officials said.
IRNA reported government spokesman Ali Rabiei as saying on Saturday: “If it is not closed for long, an estimated 4 million people are likely to lose their jobs … Four million non-government employees face a suspension or reduction of jobs, reduced pay.”