Iran limits intercity travel to prevent coronavirus spread

March 8, 2020 - 18:46

TEHRAN – Iran has limited travel between its major cities in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

A ban on traffic on some of the country’s roads, particularly [roads to] touristic provinces, was approved and put into practice as of Thursday evening to fight the coronavirus outbreak, IRNA reported on Friday.

The government has also took the extraordinary step of locking down much of the country’s north, restricting movement for non-locals through various checkpoint in regions that serve as the country’s popular destinations for domestic holidaymakers.

The number of coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 6566, with 2134 recovered and 194 dead so far (Sunday morning local time)

Iran’s National Coronavirus Combat on Friday urged the nation not to travel to northern provinces of the country due to the closure of schools and universities in the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the report added.

Authorities also warned on Friday that they may use “force” to limit travel throughout the country if needed.

Last week, tourism minister Ali-Asghar Mounesan asked people to postpone or reschedule tours so as to help the tourism industry over the virus outbreak.

“My suggestion to my dear people is that they do not cancel their hotel reservations and domestic tours as far as possible in order to help the tourism industry and prevent it from bankruptcy by making their reservations in time after virus is controlled,” Mounesan said on Wednesday.

Domestic travel in Iran traditionally reaches its climax from mid-March to early April, a time corresponding to the Persian New Year (Noruz) holidays. Iranians made 74 million overnight stays in their domestic trips during the Noruz holidays last year, which showed a 20 percent increase year on year.

As of Feb 23, Iran temporarily closed cultural heritage museums and historical sites in 15 provinces in a preventive measure amid fears of coronavirus outbreak.

The U.S.-based Global Business Travel Association has predicted that the coronavirus could scythe $560 billion from spending on corporate global travel this year, a 37 percent drop from its 2020 global expenditure forecast, as meetings and events are cancelled and companies limit travel to protect employees.

The growing death toll has sparked worldwide travel ramifications, forcing the cancellation of major conferences like Berlin’s ITB—the largest travel and tourism event in the world—closures of tourist sites such as the Louvre museum in Paris, airlines cancelling flights and companies cancelling business travel at alarming rates.

AFM/MG

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