TEHRAN: All mosques in Iran will reopen temporarily on Tuesday as the government aims to ease restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the official news agency reported.
The decision to reopen the mosques was made in consultation with the ministry of health, said Mohammad Qomi, the director of the Islamic Development Organisation.
Qomi said that mosques would only be open for three days commemorating specific nights for the holy month of Ramazan. It is unclear whether they would stay open. The move comes even though some parts of the country have seen a rise in infections.
Last Friday, prayer gatherings resumed in up to 180 Iranian cities and towns seen as being at low risk of coronavirus contagion after a two-month suspension, state media reported.
The resumption of Friday prayers – still banned in the capital Tehran and some other major cities – followed the reopening last Monday of 132 mosques in areas consistently free of the virus.
President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said that schools will reopen next week. Iran has already lifted a ban on inter-city trips and malls, with large shopping centres resuming activities.
Iran’s coronavirus deaths rose by 45 in the past 24 hours to 6,685, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV. There are 109,286 diagnosed cases.
Iran, one of the countries in the Middle East hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, has begun easing restrictions on normal life in order to support its economy, already battered by US sanctions. Health officials have repeatedly warned that easing restrictions could lead to a renewed spike in the number of infections.
Rouhani also announced the replacement of the minister of industry, mines and trade on Monday, according to the official presidency website, a decision that appeared to be an attempt to boost the economy.
Hossein Modares Khiabani will replace Reza Rahmani as the caretaker head of the ministry, the announcement. Rouhani called on Khiabani to stabilise car prices, eliminate obstacles for domestic production and expand non-oil exports.
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