Severe restrictions will come into force across many areas in Iran on Saturday in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
According to the Health Ministry, all nonessential businesses and services would be closed for two weeks in Iran's highest-risk areas including the capital Tehran and most other cities and towns.
The restrictive measures include limiting intercity travel, banning private vehicles from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., closing educational centers, and reducing the public workforce to a third in high-risk areas.
Most of Iran's 31 provinces are currently "red" – the highest risk level on the country's color-coded scale.
Iran has not imposed a full lockdown since it reported its first COVID-19 cases in February.
President Hassan Rouhani has said the restrictions were designed to act as "a stark warning to society... so that we all return to strict social discipline."
"We are on the verge of a new stage of social responsibility over the growing spread of the coronavirus," Rouhani said Wednesday.
Iran's Health Minister Saeid Namaki has warned that the new restrictions were "the last chance for the (health) system to stand against" the virus.
If they were not observed, deaths would reach higher levels and that "means we will be in an abyss that we no longer can recover from," Namaki said.
"We're facing a virus bomb, and the virus' spreading power has increased tenfold," he added.
Iran’s National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus has said the new rules will be strictly enforced and those who cross the limits will be fined.
Hossein Zolfaqari, the chairman of the Social and Security Committee of Iran’s Coronavirus Taskforce, said on Friday individuals that violate the new bans by traveling to “orange-state” cities will face a fine of 5,000,000 rials (around $20) per 24 hours while the fine in “red-state” cities will be 10,000,000 rials (about $40) per 24 hours.
According to Zolfaqari, 160 cities are in red, 208 cities in orange and 80 cities in yellow, respectively indicating low, medium and high risk for coronavirus infections.
Iran is the worst hit in the West Asia region by the pandemic and official deaths and infection figures have hit several new records in recent weeks.
The country on Friday registered 13,260 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tally to 828,377.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that the death toll rose by 479 to 43,896.
AFP contributed to this story.