DUBAI: Iran is planning to ban Iranian New Year travel and traditional gatherings in parks, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, as coronavirus toll increased to 2,077 in the worst-hit country in the Middle East.
Rouhani said Iranians will be stopped on New Year’s trips from leaving towns and gatherings will be prohibited during Sizdah Bedrail, a nature festival that is part of the festivities where people usually picnic outdoors.
“This plan is strict and it will create difficulties and restrictions for travel, and prompt people who have already traveled to return home faster,” Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television.
“These are tough decisions that are necessary to protect lives. All parks may be closed, and Sizdah Bedar will not be like previous years, but we have no choice but to do so,” Rouhani said, adding that details of this move will be announced soon.
Nowruz is an ancient New Year festival, or “new day” in Persian, and the most important date in the year, when families assemble and exchange gifts.
Officials also complained that, in the war against coronavirus, many Iranians also defied calls to stay at home and cancel travel plans.
On Wednesday a health ministry official said 2,077 people had died so far from Iran’s coronavirus, with 143 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
The total number of coronavirus infected has risen to 27,017, Alireza Vahabzadeh said in a tweet.