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A view of closed stores in Tehran Grand Bazaar after Iran imposed tougher restrictions nationwide to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Photo: Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran on Saturday imposed tougher restrictions to slow the accelerated spread of COVID-19 in the country, closing businesses and limiting travel between its major cities, but stopping short of a complete shutdown.

By the numbers: The nation, which has topped 840,000 confirmed cases, also recorded a daily death toll above 430 for the past five consecutive days, hitting 479 deaths on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

What they're saying: “If the current trend continues, we will have a winter much more difficult than the fall,” Health Ministry spokesperson Sima Sadat Lari said, according to Al Jazeera.

  • “We hope that through an increase in people refraining from risky behaviors, improving management, and better cooperation of different entities we can witness a halt to the outbreaks in the country.”

Details: The new lockdown measures include shuttering most businesses, shops, malls and restaurants in Iran’s largest cities of Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz, per AP.

  • Iranian authorities designated hundreds of towns and cities as hotspots because these urban centers have the highest daily positive coronavirus test results.
    • Officials encouraged people to "avoid gatherings and reduce traffic" to successfully implement these restrictions, adding there would be a 9 p.m. daily curfew.
  • Schools and universities will shift to virtual learning.
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the government plans to give 30 million people subsidies through the end of the year "[s]ince businesses and economic activities will be closed for two weeks."
  • He also announced that 100,000 tests will be performed daily.

The big picture: Iran initially downplayed the outbreak, but last week, the Rouhani declared a "nationwide mobilization" to confront the pandemic.

  • The government implemented a lockdown on Tehran last month, but has previously resisted extensive restrictions beyond the capital, hoping not to worsen the financial crisis in the country, the Wall Street Journal notes.

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.

Updated 22 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.