DUBAI (Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to respect health protocols to guard against the new coronavirus as “low-risk” economic activities resumed in most of the country on Saturday, state news agency IRNA reported.
So-called low-risk businesses will resume across the country from Saturday with the exception of the capital Tehran, where they will restart from April 18. Iran is the Middle Eastern country worst-affected by the highly infectious COVID-19 respiratory disease.
“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 Islamic Republic has been struggling to curb the spread of the infection but the government is also concerned that measures to limit public life to contain the virus could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.
Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabeie said “in case of long-term shutdown, some four million people could be out of work”, IRNA reported.
“Four million non-state employees face stoppage or reduction in activities, reduction of salaries and expulsion.”
Health authorities have repeatedly complained that many Iranians ignored appeals to stay at home, warning about a second wave of the outbreak in Iran where death toll had reached 4232 with 68,192 infected cases.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by William Maclean
Image: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the cabinet meeting, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tehran, Iran, April 8, 2020. Official Presidential website/Handout via REUTERS