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Iraq reopens airspace after months of virus lockdown

BAGHDAD — Iraq reopens to commercial flights after four months of lockdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which brought the country’s fragile economy to its knees.

Planes were wheels up this morning from Baghdad International Airport destined for Lebanon and Turkey, AFP reporters say.

Before boarding, passengers were required to show negative COVID-19 test results to airport staff wearing masks and gloves.

Airports in the cities of Najaf and Basra south of the capital also reopen today, but those in Arbil and Sulaimaniyah, in the northern Kurdish region, say they’ll reopen on August 1.

Iraqi authorities lifted other restrictions earlier this month, allowing malls and shops to reopen and delaying the start of overnight curfews to 9:30 p.m. local time

Restaurants and coffee shops remain closed to customers but are allowed to fulfill takeaway or delivery orders.

A full lockdown will be briefly reimposed at the end of July for the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday before being entirely lifted.

Some medics fear a return to normal life is premature as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise, reaching nearly 100,000 with more than 4,000 deaths.

— AFP

An Iraqi Airways passenger plane on the tarmac of Baghdad’s international airport on July 23, 2020, after it was reopened following a closure since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
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