Accessibility links

Breaking News

COVID-19: Iran Reopens 'Low-Risk' Businesses

A couple wearing protective face masks following a coronavirus outbreak walk in the Iranian city of Qom.

Iran has reopened some “low-risk" businesses in most parts of the country with the exception of the capital, Tehran, where they will restart from April 18, according to the state news agency IRNA.

IRNA said President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to respect health protocols as the country struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"Easing restrictions does not mean ignoring health protocols ... social distancing and other health protocols should be respected seriously by people," Rouhani was quoted as saying.

The Tasnim news agency reported that the country’s Chamber of Trade Unions has submitted to the government a list of “low-risk” businesses that include patisseries, confectioneries, and other shops whose activities don’t require many people.

With more than 70,000 officially reported cases, Iran is the Middle East’s worst-hit country by the coronavirus crisis.

The government is also concerned that measures to shut down businesses and halt economic activities to contain the virus could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.

IRNA quoted government spokesman Ali Rabeie as saying on April 11 that "in the case of a long-term shutdown, some 4 million people could be out of work.”

"Four million non-state employees face a stoppage or reduction in activities, a reduction of salaries, and expulsion,” Rabeie said.

Iran’s economy is suffering under intense U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran announced its first coronavirus cases on February 19. Many experts have repeatedly said that the real number of deaths and infections in the country could be higher than reported by Iranian officials.

With reporting by Reuters and