Syria allows businesses to reopen during the day

The Syrian government announced the easing of the country's coronavirus lockdown today.

al-monitor A view shows closed shops at Souk al-Hamidieh on March 26, 2020, as restrictions were imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Damascus, Syria. Many businesses were able to reopen April 29.  Photo by REUTERS/Yamam Al Shaar.

Apr 29, 2020

The Syrian government announced that businesses were allowed to reopen today in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown in the country.

Businesses and markets can now operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Syrian state news agency SANA reported. One journalist in the capital, Damascus, said that most businesses opened their doors today, but that civilian traffic was less than usual.

“The majority of places were open, but movement was light in most,” Ibrahim Joudeh told Al-Monitor.

Damascus closed businesses and instituted a curfew last month to curb the spread of the virus. People were only allowed to buy necessities during set hours and travel was restricted between provinces. The government also stopped its mandatory conscription of males into the army, according to Reuters.

The Syrian government enforced the curfew in the areas under its control, but much of the country’s north is ruled by Turkey, rebel groups and Kurdish forces.

The economy suffered from price increases and shortages, as well as job losses, during the lockdown. Syria has 43 confirmed coronavirus cases. Years of war have left the health care system weakened, Reuters reported.

Joudeh said that people are less afraid of the coronavirus now than they were at first and are following health precautions.

“Fear of the coronavirus among people has lessened,” he said. “There’s been adherence to coronavirus procedures. Masks and gloves were put on.”

Images from SANA showed people shopping and walking around in Damascus’ old city today. Many in the pictures wore surgical masks.

The 9-year-old civil war continues to rage in the country. Israel bombed Iran-backed forces outside Damascus on Monday. On Tuesday, a truck bomb exploded in Turkish-controlled Afrin, leading to dozens of deaths.

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