Iran tightens COVID-19 restrictions

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Iran has introduced tougher restrictions to stem a third wave of coronavirus infections, including closing non-essential businesses and travel curbs, but state media has reported widespread flouting of the rules.

"Tehran streets are crowded despite the restrictions," state TV said on Saturday morning. It said some non-essential businesses were open but later showed mostly empty streets and shuttered shops.

The semi-official ISNA news agency posted photos of crammed metro trains with the hashtag "Coronavirus kills". Other media sites posted photos of packed buses.

To encourage people to stay at home, the government has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and services in 160 high-risk "red" towns and cities, as well as a ban on cars leaving or entering these locations.

A 9pm to 4am ban on all driving is also in force in these areas.

President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks on Saturday the two-week restrictions could be extended if the desired results were not achieved.

Iran's health ministry reported 431 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the overall toll to 44,327. Total cases rose by 12,931 to 841,308.