Hard-hit Iran begins reopening economy after virus outbreak

Iran begins opening intercity highways and major shopping centers to stimulate its sanctions-choked economy, gambling that it has brought under control its coronavirus outbreak — one of the worst in the world — even as some fear it could lead to a second wave of infections

Stores from high-end malls to the meandering alleyways of Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar open their doors, though the government limits their working hours until 6 p.m. Restaurants, gyms and other locations remain closed, however.

There are still lingering questions over Iran’s outbreak and the safety of those returning to work. Taxi drivers partition their seats from the customers with plastic shields and wore masks, having seen colleagues sickened and killed by the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes.

“We, the taxi drivers, are at the highest risk than anybody else because we are constantly in touch with people,” cab driver Nemat Hassanzadeh says. “Despite that, we have no choice but to work because we cannot afford to sleep at home and not to work with these high prices. … I am a tenant and need the money to pay the monthly rent and also pay off my car loan.”

Iran’s outbreak has killed over 5,000 people in over 80,000 reported cases, though even Iran’s parliament suggests the death toll is nearly double that and overall cases remain vastly underreported. Deaths and new cases continue to be reported.


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