ISTANBUL (AP) – The Turkish Interior Ministry on Sunday lifted a total blockade ordering people to stay home to fight COVID-19 infections by moving to a less restrictive program that still included curfews on Saturdays and Sundays.
In the new directive, the ministry called the steps taken from Monday to June 1 “gradual normalization.”
Shopping malls will be able to reopen. Some businesses will remain closed, including gyms and cafes, but restaurants will be able to offer delivery in addition to delivery. Preschools will resume individual education, but high schools will continue distance learning.
Turks can return to their workplaces, but will have to stay home on weekdays from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays, except for walking to the market to buy food. Civil servants will continue to work remotely or in shifts. Foreign tourists and workers with special permits are exempt.
Unvaccinated seniors over the age of 65 will only be allowed to leave their homes on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Long-distance travel is allowed during curfew.
Despite the curfew, hundreds of football fans were in Istanbul late Saturday night to celebrate the Super League Cup for Besiktas.
New infections և COVID-19 deaths erupted after Turkey lifted maximum restrictions in March, prompting the government to impose a full blockade in late April. It was the toughest action the government has taken since the outbreak, with more than 60,000 new cases reported daily.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that 11,472 new cases were reported on Saturday, with a total death toll of 44,537. Experts say both figures are low, as in many countries, due to limited expertise’s missed cases.
The Turkish president noted that the COVID-19 restrictions are aimed at reducing new cases to less than 5,000 a day so that Turkey’s vital tourism industry does not collapse for the second time this summer.
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