Iran asks people to stay home for Nowruz holidays

Al-Monitor – Iranian officials have so far resisted calls for mandatory quarantine of areas with high infections of COVID-19. Instead, authorities have shut down schools and mosques and have asked residents to stay home. With the Nowruz (New Year) holiday approaching March 21 and most offices closed for two weeks, officials have asked Iranians to not travel during this time as they normally do.

At a teleconference for the anti-coronavirus national headquarters March 15, President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to stay home for the Nowruz holidays. One of the customs for Nowruz is visiting elderly relatives, who happen to be some of the most high-risk individuals for severe disease and death if infected with the novel coronavirus. Many others use the two-week break to travel to tourist sites across the country, particularly in the north or sometimes to the city of Mashhad. Rouhani said on March 16 that the Cabinet and others involved in stopping the spread of the coronavirus would continue to work through the holidays.

Rouhani also quashed rumors that individuals who are traveling while infected with the coronavirus could be fined, saying that returning home or to a hospital is sufficient. He asked officials in charge of shrines and mosques across the country to implement the orders of the anti-coronavirus national headquarters during the Nowruz holidays by keeping them closed.

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