COVID-19 Cases

Mosques and schools in low-risk areas of Iran to open again

Image:-school reopen in iran

Iran plans to reopen mosques and schools in areas that have consistently been free of coronavirus, as the government of President Hassan Rouhani begins to ease restrictions that aimed to contain the outbreak.

With mosques closed and religious gatherings banned since mid-March as the outbreak spread through the worst-hit country in the Middle East, ordinary Iranians have turned to drive-ins for ceremonies during Ramadan's holy Muslim fasting month.

State TV and social media videos showed people in their cars watching a religious ceremony on a large screen in a car park in Tehran.

"The mosques will reopen from Monday in 132 low-risk or 'white cities' and towns. Prayer sermons on Friday will also resume in those areas ... All these steps, however, will be taken with respect for the health protocols, "Rouhani said in a televised meeting.

Iran's Ministry of Health has divided the country into white, yellow, and red areas based on infection and death numbers.

The ministry said on Saturday that a "gradual" downward trend has begun in Iran over the infection trajectory. The health ministry said on Sunday that the death toll for coronavirus in the country had risen to 6,203, and that the total number of diagnosed cases had reached 97,424.

Iran has already lifted a ban on inter-city travel and malls, with large shopping centers resuming operations despite warnings from a new wave of infections by some health officials.

Closures to schools and universities have been maintained and cultural and sporting gatherings are still banned, although Rouhani said the plan is for some schools to reopen soon.

"The white and low-risk schools will reopen from May 16 ... We'll keep reviewing the situation though, "he said.