Iran will reopen mosques in districts that saw a decline in the number of coronavirus infections as of Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said.

Addressing a virus taskforce meeting on Sunday, Rouhani said mosques will be reopened in 132 towns and cities that are labeled as “white” areas or “low-risk” areas, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“Today, we decided to reopen mosques and Friday prayers congregations as of tomorrow in 132 towns and cities which are regarded as ‘white’ areas, or ‘low-risk’ areas as some put it,” he said.

Rouhani, however, called on Iranians to continue following social distancing rules.

“Let me put it this way. Two acts are being done at mosques: an obligatory act and a religiously rewarding act. When worshippers maintain their distances, they are doing an obligatory action,” he said.

“When they are saying their prayers at the mosque, they are doing a religiously rewarding action. In terms of priority, maintaining one’s social distance is more important than attending mass prayers at the mosque, which is a religiously rewarding act.”

With 6,156 deaths, Iran is one of the Mideast countries hardest hit by coronavirus, which was first detected in the city of Qom on Feb. 19, and then spread throughout the country.

The government did not impose a total lockdown as seen in many other countries, but did close educational institutions and banned cultural, religious, and sports gatherings.

Authorities, meanwhile, have in phases since April 11 allowed the reopening of businesses closed as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 cases have been reported in 187 countries and regions since it emerged in Wuhan, China last December, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

The pandemic has killed more than 244,000 people, with total infections at almost 3.45 million, while just over a million people have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

* Written by Mohamed Sabry

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.