Iran is moving ahead with plans to reopen religious and cultural sites, as well as businesses, further easing restrictions rolled out to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement broadcast on state television, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday museums and historical sites will be allowed to welcome visitors again on Sunday to coincide with the Eid el-Fitr celebrations marking the end the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Shrines, some of which became focal points of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East countries, will reopen on Monday.
Rouhani had said last week the shrines would open for three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Some areas of the shrines such as narrow corridors will stay shut.
Meanwhile, all workers in the sanctions-hit country will return to work next Saturday.
“We can say we have passed the three stages regarding the coronavirus,” Rouhani said.
The fourth phase is containment in 10 of Iran’s 31 provinces, where the situation is better and screening will intensify while infected patients will be separated from the rest of the population.
The president said last week that restaurants would reopen after Ramadan and sports activities would resume without spectators. Universities, but not medical schools, will reopen on June 6.
The Iranian health ministry has recorded more than 130,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and more some 7,300 related deaths.
Rouhani said on Saturday that 88 percent of the deaths were people with one or more underlying illnesses.
On Friday, Iraj Harirchi, deputy minister of health, renewed an appeal for Iranians to avoid unnecessary travel during Eid al-Fitr, which will be held on Sunday and Monday.
People in the country usually travel between provinces to visit their family and friends during the holiday.
“Moving in the red zones puts us in danger and moving in the white zones puts the inhabitants of these zones in danger,” Harirchi was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency on Friday.
Last month, authorities divided up the country into colour-coded regions – white, yellow and red – based on the number of coronavirus infections and deaths.