TEHRAN – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday declared new travel bans for cities situated in the “red” and “orange” zones to combat the new COVID-19 variant.
Rouhani called on people to avoid traveling during the Iranian New Year holidays to help contain the spread of coronavirus. He said it would be forbidden to make trips to cities marked as “red” and “orange” in terms of the prevalence of COVID-19.
“We request people to avoid traveling during Noruz holidays for the sake of their own health… It will be forbidden to travel to red and orange towns and cities,” he said.
“No one should make any plans to travel to these cities,” he stressed.
The president said the tolerance of the country’s health system “has a limit,” urging the public to cooperate when it comes to observing health protocols.
Late in February, the tourism minister, Ali-Asghar Mounesan, said despite all the obstacles and issues and the outbreak of the coronavirus, the country’s tourism sector is still alive and dynamic.
Noruz ceremonies and trips, if practiced under health protocols, could be beneficial for the revival of the tourism industry and handicrafts, which have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic in many provinces, the minister explained.
His deputy for tourism, Vali Teymouri, in February announced that the tourism ministry has gained official permission for organizing limited intercity travels during the Iran New Year vacations from the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control.
Well-planned travels during the Noruz holidays, which will start on March 20, would be possible in close coordination with the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control, Teymouri said.
“In order to create social vitality during the holidays, the ministry has set some rules for possible Noruz trips to control and monitor them carefully,” he said.
“The trips will be possible only within the framework of planned tours through licensed travel agencies and under the supervision of the tourism ministry.”
For people, who travel individually and outside of the tours, a reservation for an authorized accommodation center will be necessary, the official added. He also emphasized that all travelers and tourists need to follow strict health protocols during their trips and stays.
With less than a month to go till the start of the Iranian New Year, which has long been associated with millions of domestic travels, the ministry wants to find a way to partially revive the already-slumped travels in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.
Iranians traditionally make hundreds of thousands of domestic trips during the New Year holidays, when most businesses and workplaces are closed, as are schools.