COVID-19: Iraq imposes partial curfew through Ramadan, cuts 1 hour from workday

Cars fill the streets of central Baghdad ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, April 12, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)
Cars fill the streets of central Baghdad ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, April 12, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Supreme Committee for National Health and Safety decided on Monday to impose a partial anti-coronavirus curfew and reduce official working hours at government offices by one hour during Ramadan, a traditional month for Muslims of fasting and gathering with family.

The federal committee explained in a statement that the month-long movement restriction will be enforced between 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. and that a full, 24-hour curfew would be in effect on Friday and Saturday.

In addition, it also reduced the workday in state institutions and departments by one hour for the duration of Ramadan.

The new restrictions have largely exempted pharmacies, grocery stores, produce sellers, and bakeries from the curfew, allowing them to operate until 7 p.m. every day.

Earlier on Monday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health recorded 7,953 new daily coronavirus cases and 44 deaths. This brings the total number of infections so far to 932,899, with 14,757 of them proving fatal.

The ministry also indicated that "the number of vaccinated people during the day, reached 12,174 citizens," making a total of 152,962 individuals vaccinated to date in Iraq.

At the same time, the Minister of Health and Environment Hassan al-Tamimi said, "The comprehensive curfew during the month of Ramadan will remain on Friday and Saturday only," noting that "in the event of non-compliance, the comprehensive curfew could instead be in place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday."

Also on Monday, the premier of the autonomous Kurdistan Region sent out a message marking the advent of Ramadan while urging the public to avoid traditional family gatherings associated with the month-long religious observance amid a spike in new coronavirus cases.

Read More: KRG marks start of Ramadan, urges public to follow COVID-19 health restrictions

"As we welcome this month," read a statement by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, "we are inspired to call upon all Kurds to preserve their health and safety by fully adhering to health guidelines and preventive measures, which is the best way to protect ourselves from the coronavirus pandemic."

Editing by John J. Catherine