Ten days of sweeping COVID-19 restrictions go into effect in Iraq
A 10-day lockdown intended to curb the spread of coronavirus in Iraq started on Wednesday, coinciding with the end of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
Iraq is in the midst of a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, recording an average of more than 5,000 cases a day over the last week and more than 1.12 million diagnosed cases since the outbreak of the virus in the country last year.
On May 4, the Iraqi Council of Ministers agreed to sweeping restrictions from May 12-22, including a full curfew and the shuttering of most businesses, malls, restaurants and parks. Some essential businesses – including bakeries, grocery stores, and pharmacies – are exempt.
Large gatherings of any type are also banned, and other public health measures such as the wearing of face coverings are to be enforced.
During Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Ramadan month, Muslims typically celebrate by meeting with family and friends.
The lockdown does not apply to the autonomous Kurdistan Region, whose government reversed course last week and decided not to impose a planned three-day lockdown during the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The KRG instead left the decision up to the provinces, which all declined to impose similar restrictions to those in Iraq.
Large-scale vaccination has not gone as planned in federal Iraq despite reassurances from the health ministry and harsher tactics like travel restrictions and the firing of some healthcare, education, and hospitality employees who refuse to be vaccinated. AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Sinopharm are all available, but so far, around 360,000 people in the country of 40 million have gotten their first vaccine dose, according to the health ministry.