Turkey enters “new normal” of lifting anti-coronavirus restrictions

Turkey on Monday lifted a series of bans that were imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a normalization plan, as the government has announced a success in containing the deadly virus.

Restrictions on intercity travels are lifted and restaurants, cafes, parks, beaches, swimming pools, hot springs, sports facilities, archaeological sites, libraries, youth centers, camps and museums are allowed to reopen, as the coronavirus outbreak in Turkey has been kept down in the past few weeks.

Restaurants and cafes reopened on Monday with strict hygiene rules, setting tables 1.5 meters apart from each other, while customers are served with disposable tableware, with the wearing of masks as a must for both customers and staff.

Trains, ships and airlines will also start carrying passengers between provinces under the precautions.

Turkey restarted its first mass Friday prayers last week and gradually reopens mosques.

Daycare centers and kindergartens are also reopening after almost three months of closure. Most of the labor force in the country have resumed field or office work, along with all civil servants who were working remotely on administrative leave.

It is worth noting that the Turkish military resumed discharges and conscripts on Sunday.

However, the curfew will remain for those aged over 65 if they do not run a business, but they have been able to travel between provinces upon permissions since last week.

Young people and children under 18 will only be free to go out on Wednesdays and Fridays between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. local time.

The interior ministry has imposed two-day curfews over the weekends since April and the government is expected to ease the weekend lockdowns as well.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan identified the current phase as “new normal,” but warned that the government could reintroduce the restrictions in case of a negative course of the pandemic.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca recently said the outbreak in Turkey was under control.

Koca on Sunday confirmed 839 new COVID-19 cases, noting the increase is within predictable margins.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case in the country on March 11, and a total of 163,942 so far with a death toll of 4,540.

According to Koca, the occupancy rate in Turkey’s intensive care facilities are very low, with the number of patients in intensive care units decreasing each day.