President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will be divided into three risk zones based on the number of COVID-19 infections and fatalities, adding that religious sites could reopen in areas designated as white.
Speaking during a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus in Tehran on Sunday, Rouhani said the Health Ministry would draw up a map of “white,” “yellow” and “red” risk zones in the country.
In the white areas, religious sites, mosques and holy shrines would be allowed to reopen and hold Friday prayers under the health guidelines issued to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tomorrow, if we were told that the city of Mashhad is white, i.e. the Health Ministry came to the conclusion that it would be white for two weeks, then the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) would reopen based on the protocols the ministry declares,” he said.
The Health Ministry, he added, should specify the date on which the white risk zones – that are now about 127 counties – can reopen mosques and hold Friday prayers while observing the health protocols.
“This is the first step in opening up religious sites that are of great interest to the people, and God willing, we hope that the white areas will expand day by day and we will have
better conditions while the people observe” the protocols, Rouhani said.
He also called on Iranians to help the economically vulnerable groups during Ramadan.
“Of course, our people have always come to the scene whenever there have been floods, earthquakes and other problems. Now, the month of Ramadan is also one of those occasions during which people should step forth and help in the face of hardships and problems.”
Iran has been among the countries hardest hit by the highly contagious virus that first showed up in China in late December 2019 before spreading across the globe.
Illegal US sanctions have hampered the virus fight in Iran, which reported its first COVID-19 infection cases in late February.
On Sunday, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in Iran had risen by 60 in the past 24 hours to 5,710.
The total number of diagnosed cases of the new coronavirus in Iran has reached 90,481, he said, adding 69,657 patients have also recovered and been discharged from hospital.