Tehran, Iran – A slew of new restrictions, including partial lockdowns and curfews, came into effect across Iran on Saturday as an alarming surge in COVID-19 infections continues unabated.
Officials updated a colour-coded list of cities and counties based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 hospitalisations, which classify them from “white” denoting no danger to “red” that shows the highest level of alarm.
For at least two weeks “red” regions will undergo a partial shutdown that includes closing down all non-essential businesses, but allows up to one-third of government employees to work at offices.
It also allows private firms linked with essential services to continue operating in the dozens of regions identified with the highest level of alarm, including in at least 25 of Iran’s 32 province capitals.
More businesses and government workers can keep operating in regions whose classifications are less severe.
A local 9pm to 4am curfew was also implemented across the country that prohibits intra-city travel. Police in regions with the highest risk levels has been allowed to fine violators 10 million rials ($40) every 24 hours.
Moreover, vehicles with non-local license plates have been barred from entering areas classified as “red” or “orange”. Residents of these regions also cannot enter others.
A mandatory mask rule will continue to be implemented across the country.
The new restrictions came after a major spike in the number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths as Iran battles a third wave of the largest and deadliest coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East.
As announced by the health ministry on Saturday, 431 more deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,327. A further 12,931 more infections were also recorded, with total cases numbering 841,308.
Iran’s worst single-day death toll of 482 was recorded on November 16 while the highest single-day infection figure of 13,421 was registered three days earlier.
Daily infection rates have more than tripled since the start of October.