In a statement on Friday, Iran's coronavirus task force extended the lockdown measures for more two weeks, and announced that only essential services -- including health centers and pharmacies, food shops and public transport -- will be allowed to open in the country's areas of highest risk.
Starting on Saturday, all non-essential businesses will have to close at 6 p.m. The restrictions were first imposed on Nov. 21 as part of the government’s measures to contain the spread of the viral infection.
Private vehicles are still prohibited from leaving the worst-hit areas, “red and orange zones”, until further notice, and are banned from circulating between 9:00 pm and 4:00 am in Tehran and other large cities.
Government offices and organizations in red zone areas are allowed to work with less than 30% of their employees, while banks, post offices, communications and other utilities can work with half their staff, the statement said.
Speaking at a daily press conference on Thursday, Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the number of people tested positive for COVID-19 across the country had risen to 1,003,494 after the detection of 13,922 new cases since yesterday.
The death toll from COVID-19 in Iran has reached 49,348, she said, noting that the disease has taken the lives of 358 patients over the past 24 hours.