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Iran to resume low-risk economic activities amid COVID-19 crisis



Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said "low-risk" economic activities will resume from April 11 amid a worldwide coronavirus pandemic within the worst-affected geographic area country.

"Under the supervision of the health ministry, all those low-risk economic activities will resume from Saturday," Rouhani said in an exceedingly televised meeting on Sunday, adding that "those activities will resume within the capital, Tehran, from April 18".

Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 disease, but authorities also are concerned that measures to limit public life to contain the virus could wreck an already sanctions-battered economy.

"Two-thirds of all Iranian government employees will see of the office from Saturday ... the choice doesn't contradict stay-at-home advice by the health authorities," Rouhani said.

The Iranian leader didn't spell out what he meant by low-risk activities, but said the suspension of "high-risk activities" - schools, universities and various social, cultural, sports and spiritual events - would be extended to April 18.

Second coronavirus wave feared
Reporting from Tehran, Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi said health experts have warned that normalising matters ahead of time could bring about a second wave of the pandemic within the country.

"We can surmise that what the govt. considers low risk is anything that does not compel large of a crowd to make," he said. "People can work from home, and that they can open small businesses."

"In terms of what high risk is, schools and shrines remain closed - anything where there's a possible mass gathering [such as] cinemas, football stadiums, large shopping complexes," he said.

Basravi said Rouhani made it clear that the government's branches were all on board together with his commit to partially ease the restrictions.

"We must remember that the country’s main concern right along has been the virus might do what sanctions couldn't, which is bring the economy to a standstill. And that’s really what they’re trying to fight against at now," Basravi said.

Iran's health ministry on Sunday said the coronavirus toll within the country had reached 3,603, while a complete of 58,226 people were infected. The daily toll has been rising by a minimum of 100 deaths for the past few days.

Iranian officials have repeatedly complained that several Iranians are ignoring appeals to remain home and to cancel travel plans for the year holidays that began on March 20.

Rouhani's government has done without imposing a lockdown on cities but banned intercity travel until April 8. He said this ban would now be extended until April 18.

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