Main Friday prayers resume in Tehran as Covid rules eased

Tehran (AFP) – Iran on Friday allowed people to attend prayers at the University of Tehran, the main weekly service in the capital, for the first time in nearly 20 months.


Hundreds of worshippers attended the prayers, wearing masks and respecting social distancing as workers sprayed disinfectant, an AFP photographer said.

Iran, the Middle East nation hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, gradually closed mosques following the announcement of the first cases of Covid-19 in February 2020.

Some mosques were later allowed to reopen, but only in areas where reported cases were lower.

Friday prayers at the University of Tehran, held in a large hall, had attracted thousands of worshippers before they were suspended at the start of the pandemic.

In recent months, prayers have been held outdoors in mosque courtyards in Tehran and other major cities, but with a limited number of worshippers.

The country has recorded nearly 125,000 deaths from more than 5.85 million cases of infection, according to the latest official figures, which the authorities admit are largely underestimated.

In recent weeks the national caseload has begun to decline, after peaking in August during what officials have called a "fifth wave".

Over 50 million people have received a first dose of a Covid vaccine, and 28 million people have been fully vaccinated, out of a population of 83 million.