Sulaimani, Halabja to close shisha bars as preventative measure for coronavirus

General view of Sulaimani city in Winter (File)

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SULAIMANI — Head of the Sulaimani Municipal Council Lashkr Hamid said on Wednesday (February 26) the at local authorities have decided to close all cafeterias and shisha bars in the city, following similar decisions in Erbil, Kalar, and Halabja.

“In order to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, the Supreme Committee for Coronavirus Response decided to close shisha bars, swimming pools, live music concerts, and events at which a lot of people gather,” Hamid said.

“The municipal teams will act quickly to take proper measures and close all the places that the supreme committee have deemed as a threat,” Hamid added.

Similar establishments would be closed in Halabja, Deputy Governor Kawa Ali said on Wednesday.

The authorities in Erbil and Kalar have also issued similar orders.

Halabja Governor Azad Tofiq called on people who have recently returned from Iran to cooperate with medical teams in the governorate, not to hide themselves, and to get in touch with the authorities for a medical check.

He said that the measure was “for their own safety and for the people’s safety” and warned that the authorities would take legal measures against them if they do not comply with medical orders.

So far, no coronavirus cases have been recorded in the Kurdistan Region, but five have been confirmed in Iraq, including four in Kirkuk. All of those patients recently returned from Iran.

Authorities in Kirkuk also announced that they would close all schools, including universities, for the next fifteen days. All government departments in the province will close, except for emergency services such as the health directorates, civil defense, and police.

Worried about the impact a local infection might have, people in the Kurdistan Region have rushed to shops and markets for food and face masks, especially after the KRG decided to close its border with Iran for most traffic. Fuel tankers were still allowed to cross the border, although drivers will be checked for infection.

(NRT Digital Media)