Iran has announced that it will make the wearing of masks mandatory at indoor gathering places as the number of coronavirus fatalities recorded in a single day rose by the highest number in nearly three months.
The measure announced by President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday was accompanied by news that hard-hit provinces would be allowed to reimpose restrictions aimed at countering the impact of the virus.
Rouhani said the new mask requirement would be in force until July 22.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei earlier warned the country’s economic problems could worsen if the coronavirus spreads unchecked.
The country shut down nonessential businesses, closed schools and cancelled public events in March, but the government gradually lifted restrictions from April to try to reopen the country's sanctions-hit economy.
Iran reported 144 new fatalities owing to the coronavirus on June 27, its highest death toll for a single day in almost three months. The country is among the top 10 in the world in terms of the number of coronavirus infections, with more than 222,600 infections recorded, and over 10,500 deaths.
The Islamic republic had refrained from enforcing full lockdowns to stop the pandemic's spread, and the use of masks and protective equipment was optional in most areas.