Tehran [Iran], May 3 (ANI): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran will reopen mosques in areas that have been consistently free of the new coronavirus, as the country begins to ease restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic outbreak.
Iran's health ministry has divided the country into white, yellow and red areas based on the number of coronavirus infections and deaths, Al Jazeera reported.
"Mosques will reopen in 132 low-risk or 'white' cities and towns from Monday," Rouhani said in a televised statement on Sunday.
"Friday prayer sermons will resume in those areas as well ... However, all these steps will be taken by respecting the health protocols," he added.
"Social distancing is more important than collective prayer," he continued, arguing that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only "recommended".
With 6,156 deaths and 97,424 diagnosed cases, Iran is one of the Mideast countries hardest hit by coronavirus, which was first detected in the city of Qom on February 19, and then spread throughout the country.
The government did not impose a total lockdown as seen in many other countries, but did close educational institutions and banned cultural, religious, and sports gatherings.
But the health ministry said on Saturday that the trajectory of infections had started a "gradual" downward trend in the country.
Rouhani said hospital visits over potential infections were also "much lower" compared to recent weeks.
Iran has already lifted a ban on inter-city trips and malls, with large shopping centres resuming activities despite warnings by some health officials of a new wave of infections.
Authorities have in phases since April 11 allowed the reopening of businesses closed as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus. (ANI)