Coronavirus: Iran reopens major shrines as deaths fall

Tehran’s Shah Abdol Azim shrine, the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and the Fatima Masumeh shrine and Jamkaran mosque in Qom all reopened

epa08443847 An Iranian official walks around the tomb of the Abdol Azim inside the shrine in the city of Shahre Ray, south of the capital city Tehran, Iran, 25 May 2020. Media reported that Iran reopened its holy shrines in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, but people can't gather inside and around the tomb.  EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
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Iran on Monday reopened major shrines across the country, more than two months after they were closed.

At Tehran’s Shah Abdol Azim shrine, worshippers had to wear a mask, walk through a disinfection tunnel and have their temperature checked as they began returning from the early morning, according to AFP reporters.

The Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad in northeast Iran and the Fatima Masumeh shrine and Jamkaran mosque in Qom also reopened.

They are allowed to open starting from an hour after dawn until an hour before dusk.

Shrines were closed alongside schools, universities and all non-vital businesses in March after Iran reported its first two coronavirus deaths in Qom in late February.

On Monday, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the coronavirus cases in Iran had reached 137,724, while the overall deaths had risen to 7,451.

In the past 24 hours, Iran recorded 2,032 new cases while the fatalities stood at 34 – the lowest daily count recorded since March 7 – he told a news conference.

Experts inside and outside Iran have cast doubt on the country’s official figures, and say the actual toll could be much higher.

Iran has allowed a phased reopening of its economy and gradual relaxation of restrictions since early April, with a further easing expected in the coming days despite a recent surge in new cases.

“High-risk” businesses such as restaurants, cafes and wedding halls in Tehran, which were left shuttered, will reopen from Tuesday, the capital’s deputy police chief Nader Moradi told Isna news agency.

Authorities are yet to say when similar measures will be allowed in other provinces.