Tehran to impose fines for virus regulation breaches as caseload soars

Tehran: Iran is to start imposing fines for breaches of health regulations in the capital, President Hassan Rouhani announced on Saturday, after daily coronavirus infections hit a record high this week.

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Iran has previously held back from using fines to enforce mask wearing in public and other health protocols, but they will now be imposed in the capital Tehran, Rouhani told a televised meeting of the country’s coronavirus taskforce.

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The police, the Basij paramilitary force and health inspectors will have powers to impose the fines, and offenders will have two weeks to make payment into a health ministry account, Rouhani said in a televised speech during the weekly coronavirus taskforce meeting.

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Breaches punishable by a fine include refusal to quarantine while sick and failure to wear a mask in a public space or require a customer to do so.

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Fines range from 500,000 rials ($1.60) for not wearing a mask to a maximum of 10 million ($32.80) for businesses not observing health protocols.

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The fines represent a not insignificant sum for Iranians who have endured a deep recession since Washington reimposed crippling economic sanctions in 2018.

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The minimum monthly wage stands at around 18 million rials, worth less than $60 following a sharp fall in the value of the currency.

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Iran’s daily death toll from the novel coronavirus hit a record high of 239 on Wednesday. Daily infections reached a new high of 4,392 the following day.

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The virus has now killed more than 28,000 people and infected more than 492,300 in Iran, according to health ministry figures.

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Tehran authorities shut most public spaces and cancelled public events for a week last Saturday in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

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Those restrictions have been extended until Wednesday, governor Anoushirvan Mohseni-Bandpey told state television.

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