A mother and his son wearing face masks walk on a street in Tehran, Iran, on April 10, 2020. Iran has so far reported 68,192 COVID-19 cases, of whom a total of 4,232 have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
TEHRAN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Under the decisions by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's administration and the National Headquarters to Fight the Coronavirus, parts of the country's restrictions on economic activities amid the COVID-19 epidemic will be eased starting Saturday.
Rouhani said earlier that Iran's new smart social distancing plan is a double-edged policy aimed at starting over low-risk economic activities while maintaining the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the new plan of smart social distancing, certain sectors of the economy, which Rouhani refers to as low-risk businesses, will be restarted.
"With the protection of health as a priority and with all the necessary health protocols, we must adopt measures to move the wheel of the economy," Rouhani said.
Under the new plan "two thirds of all government employees will work in the office from Saturday," the Iranian president added.
"Risky businesses like sports centers and activities that require a large population involvement are still banned until further notice," he noted.
Anyone who tests positive for the novel coronavirus is obliged to inform his manager and put himself under a two-week self-quarantine, Rouhani said.
In line with the implementation of the smart social distancing plan, Tehran Crisis Management and Prevention Organization has also decided that all inhabitants of the capital would undergo mandatory tests for the symptoms of novel coronavirus.
However, the ease of restrictions on certain economic activities raised concerns for possible COVID-19 resurgence.
Alireza Zali, head of the task force for implementing the quarantine plan in Tehran, warned on Tuesday that Iran has not reached "the phase of controlling this virus."
"The coronavirus has just reached the pandemic stage in Tehran," he said.
Media reports suggested last week that while the ministry of industry urged the resumption of economic activities in the country, the ministry of health opposed the idea, insisting on the maintenance of implementation of a full social distancing plan.
Reopening of business "will quickly engulf the health system and consequently the country's economy ... which might do irreparable harm," Minister of Health and Medical Education Saeed Namaki warned last week.
With a population of over 82 million, Iran announced the first cases of COVID-19 on Feb. 19, recording so far the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the Middle East region.
Iran has so far reported 68,192 COVID-19 cases, of whom a total of 4,232 have died.