Coronavirus: Iran sets travel restrictions for four provinces

February 27, 2021 - 19:12

TEHRAN – Restrictions aimed at slowing a surge in coronavirus cases have been set for four Iranian provinces, which have recently been designated as high-risk “red zones”.

“Travel to and from Khuzestan province is completely restricted and it is not possible to travel to or leave Khuzestan,” the deputy traffic police chief, Seyyed Teymour Hosseini, told ISNA on Thursday.

“Moreover, it is not possible to travel to the three northern provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan due to the corona situation [there] and the decisions taken to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Furthermore, the senior police officer announced that travels to and from Mashhad, Shiraz, Isfahan, Bushehr, Bandar Abbas, Kish, and Qeshm have been limited until further notice.

The restrictions, however, are at odds with the most recent announcement by the deputy tourism minister, Vali Teymouri, who said his ministry has gained permission for limited New Year travels, which begins on March 21.

“We have obtained permission for limited Noruz trips from the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control,” Teymouri announced on February 23.

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.

“The tourism ministry has held several meetings with the National Headquarters for the Coronavirus Control during with we discussed the issues in detail. Based on our strategies, we proposed two travel models that can be implemented following health protocols in the country,” Teymouri said last week.

The first [working] model for travels in the Iranian New Year, proposes travels by the means of package tours. “Throughout package tours, travelers benefit from services provided by the tour and they will stay in authorized accommodation centers [and destinations] which are under the supervision of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts,” the official explained.

For the second model, people do not go on tours, but when traveling to their destination city, they must stay in authorized accommodation centers, which are under the supervision of the ministry, to comply with all health protocols and maintain public health, Teymouri stated.

Iranians traditionally make hundreds of thousands of domestic trips during the New Year holidays, when most businesses and workplaces are closed, as are schools.