Iran closes businesses, limits travel amid coronavirus surge

Iran on Saturday imposed tougher restrictions to slow the accelerated spread of COVID-19 in the country, closing businesses and limiting travel between its major cities, but stopping short of a complete shutdown.

By the numbers: The nation, which has topped 840,000 confirmed cases, also recorded a daily death toll above 430 for the past five consecutive days, hitting 479 deaths on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

What they’re saying: “If the current trend continues, we will have a winter much more difficult than the fall,” Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said, according to Al Jazeera.

  • “We hope that through an increase in people refraining from risky behaviors, improving management, and better cooperation of different entities we can witness a halt to the outbreaks in the country.”

Details: The new lockdown measures include shuttering most businesses, shops, malls and restaurants in Iran’s largest cities of Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz, per AP.

  • Iranian authorities designated hundreds of towns and cities as hotspots because these urban centers have the highest daily positive coronavirus test results.
    • Officials encouraged people to “avoid gatherings and reduce traffic” to successfully implement these restrictions, adding there would be a 9 p.m. daily curfew.
  • Schools and universities will shift to virtual learning.
  • Iranian President said the government plans to give 30 million people subsidies through the end of the year “[s]ince businesses and economic activities will be closed for two weeks.”
  • He also announced that 100,000 tests will be performed daily.

The big picture: Iran initially downplayed the outbreak, but last week, the Rouhani declared a “nationwide mobilization” to confront the pandemic.

  • The government implemented a lockdown on Tehran last month, but has previously resisted extensive restrictions beyond the capital, hoping not to worsen the financial crisis in the country, the Wall Street Journal notes.

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