Iran announces group prayer to resume at mosques nationwide
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Iran announces group prayer to resume at mosques nationwide

Iranian president says houses of worship will be allowed to reopen throughout the country, even as rate of new infections rises

Muslim worshippers read the Koran at the Shah Abdol-Azim shrine in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 25, 2020, after the reopening of major Shiite shrines across the country following their closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Stringer/AFP)
Muslim worshippers read the Koran at the Shah Abdol-Azim shrine in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 25, 2020, after the reopening of major Shiite shrines across the country following their closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Stringer/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Saturday that collective prayers will resume in mosques, even as confirmed new coronavirus infections rise again after a decline.

“It has been decided to open the mosques across the country… giving worshipers the chance to perform their daily prayers while respecting the required (hygiene) rules,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Iran, hit by the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of the virus, began to loosen restrictions on human interaction in April, classifying areas as white, orange and red — respectively indicating low, medium and high risk for coronavirus infections.

Rouhani said Saturday that the reopening of mosques for daily prayer “would not only be in white zones,” but did not elaborate on when the eased measures would take effect.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the inaugural session of the new parliament in Tehran on May 27, 2020. (AFP)

Authorities had progressively closed mosques across Iran after confirming the first coronavirus infections in February.

Mosques in areas falling into the white category were allowed to reopen their doors for prayer for the month of Ramadan — April 25 to May 24 — but only for individual prayer.

For Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, collective prayer was permitted in some areas.

A requirement that shopping center close by 6 p.m. would be lifted, Rouhani added, again without specifying when this measure will take effect.

The Iranian president also warned the population against believing that the country was rid of the virus, emphasizing that it was here to stay.

An Iranian woman walks through a disinfection tunnel at the Shah Abdol-Azim shrine in the Iranian capital Tehran on May 25, 2020, after the reopening of major Shiite shrines across the country following their closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Stringer/AFP)

He urged citizens to respect the rules on social distancing fastidiously.

A further 57 people who tested positive for the virus died over the last day, the health ministry said Saturday, taking the total confirmed death toll to 7,734.

The official figures show a renewed acceleration in virus cases since early May.

The ministry announced 2,282 new confirmed infections on Saturday, taking the total number of declared infections since February to 148,950.

On Friday, authorities announced new confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours had totaled 2,819, a near two-month high.

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