Iran to restrict travel to stop coronavirus

Iranian authorities said that starting tomorrow they will restrict travel and implement more restrictive measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.

al-monitor A traffic police officer wears a protective face mask and gloves, amid fear of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he walks in Tehran, Iran, March 26, 2020.  Photo by WANA/Ali Khara via REUTERS.

Mar 26, 2020

Starting tomorrow, Iran will restrict travel and implement more restrictive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement released by the Interior Ministry March 26, the police will enforce new social distancing measures, banning large gatherings and eliminating nonessential traffic from March 27 to April 3. Entry into a city will be restricted to residents only, as verified by national ID cards, license plates and car insurance. Schools and universities will remain closed, as will parks, gardens and other public spaces. All ceremonies, whether official or not, will be banned.

According to the statement, government offices will be divided into three different shifts to reduce the number of people at work, up to one-third of the regular staff. Guilds and other jobs will be divided into three groups: must remain open, must close and exempt from closure, due to local considerations.

Iran police chief Hossein Ashtari urged Iranians March 26 to return to their homes, as many Iranians had traveled to other provinces during the Nowruz holidays. “All travel to outside of the city will be banned,” Ashtari said, saying exceptions will be made for vehicles transporting food, medicine and medical supplies. Ashtari said that individuals traveling outside their home cities will be fined and have their cars impounded for a month.  

Teymour Hosseini, the head of traffic police, said, “We will restrict the exits from provinces, and no one will be permitted to exit the provinces.” Exceptions will be made, he said, for people returning to their home provinces, yet he urged residents to “return to your homes as soon as possible.”

The number of deaths and new coronavirus cases in Iran continues to climb. The country’s total confirmed cases is now 29,406, with 2,234 deaths. In the last 24 hours, 2,389 new cases were recorded and 157 deaths. In the last two days, Iran has had more than 2,000 new cases, whereas in the last few weeks they averaged around 1,000 new cases a day. The higher rates could be a result of more widespread testing.

Alireza Zaali, the Tehran official in charge of combating coronavirus, continues to sound the alarm about the spread of the virus. He warned March 26 on an Iranian radio station that the concept of herd immunity — in which a large percentage of people get the virus and develop immunity — would not work for COVID-19. If such a concept were enacted, many people would need to be hospitalized and it would lead to even more deaths. If coronavirus is not stopped, Tehran could face a 60-70% infection rate.

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