The Stream

Could reopening Iran’s economy worsen its coronavirus crisis?

Already struggling with economic sanctions, Iran begins reducing restrictions for businesses.

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 19:30 GMT:
Iran has already begun easing its coronavirus restrictions by reopening “low-risk” businesses in select areas. As the nation continues its efforts to contain the disease, the government is concerned that restrictions limiting business activity during the pandemic are not sustainable in an economy already struggling from United States sanctions.

The United Nations, European Union and others have called on the Trump administration to ease its “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions on Iran, which many argue is hindering disease-control efforts. Iran is among Middle Eastern countries worst-affected by the virus, with more than 5,200 deaths and 83,000 infections.

Although sanctions have placed limitations on foreign financial transactions to Iran, the US insists they are not blocking medical supplies or humanitarian aid.

Criticism has also fallen on Iran’s leaders who were slower than other countries to order travel restrictions and close non-essential businesses. Officials said many citizens initially ignored social distancing guidelines and now some officials are fearing a second wave of infections.

In this episode, we look at Iran’s response to the coronavirus and ask how economic sanctions are affecting disease control.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak to:
Abas Aslani, @abasaslani
Journalist; Senior research fellow at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies

Vira Ameli, @viraameli
PhD candidate at University of Oxford

Negar Mortazavi, @negarmortazavi
Iranian-American journalist