Iran set to reopen mosques in low-risk areas
Iran will reopen mosques in areas consistently free of the new coronavirus on Monday as the sanctions-hit country starts to ease restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic, Al Jazeera reports.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 47 people died of the virus over the past 24 hours, the lowest daily count in 55 days.
He told a news conference he hoped "the trend will continue in the upcoming days".
President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised statement on Sunday that 132 counties, about one-third of the country's administrative divisions, will "reopen their mosques as of tomorrow".
"Social distancing is more important than collective prayer," he continued, arguing that Islam considers safety obligatory, while praying in mosques is only "recommended".
With mosques closed and religious gatherings banned since mid-March, ordinary Iranians have turned to drive-in theatres for ceremonies during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
State TV and videos on social media showed people in their cars watching a religious ceremony on a big screen in a car park in the capital, Tehran.