Since the official announcement of the first cases of Covid-19 in the Islamic Republic of Iran nine months ago, the authorities have not imposed comprehensive lockdown measures similar to what many countries have done around the world, especially in light of the economic difficulties facing the country amid the US embargo imposed on it.
Iran is the country most affected in the Middle East by the pandemic, which has killed more than 44,000 people on its soil.
President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech during the weekly meeting of the National Authority to Combat Covid-19, that “with the new measures, we wanted to tell the people that the problem of the emerging corona virus is very serious.”
The measures that took effect on Saturday and will continue for a period of up to two weeks include the complete closure of non-essential institutions in more than half of the country’s cities, most notably Tehran and the centers of the other 30 provinces.
Exempt from the procedures in areas classified at the “red” level (the highest according to the classification followed in Iran), health centers and stores that sell foodstuffs, in addition to pharmacies, banks, public transportation, gas stations and press institutions.
According to the commission, the measures will affect about 53 million people out of the country’s population of more than 80 million.
Rouhani stressed in his speech the need to “convince people that we have no other choice” at the present time to combat the spread of the disease.
Within the framework of the new measures, the movement of private transport vehicles will be restricted from nine o’clock at night until four o’clock in the morning in major cities, and their movement between areas classified as “red” will be prohibited.
Rouhani reiterated the call on citizens to abide by the restrictions set by the authorities, and urged families to avoid gatherings during this period.
“We call on citizens to abide by all the rules in order to reduce as soon as possible the economic pressure imposed on these institutions and economic activities,” he said.