Restaurants and cafes reopen, travel restrictions lifted

Restaurants and cafes reopen, travel restrictions lifted

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Restaurants, cafes and parks will open on June 1 while the last inter-city travel curbs have been removed as Turkey enters the phase of “new normal” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has been gradually rolling back the restrictions for some time initially imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 160,000 and killed over 4,500 people in the country.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca recently said the outbreak is now under control.

As the country has made progress in the fight against the coronavirus, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 28 unveiled the steps taken toward the “new normal.”

Under the steps for the next phase, excluding places of entertainment, enterprises such as restaurants, patisseries, cafes, tea gardens, swimming pools and hot springs are set to recommence their operations on June 1.

Restaurants and cafes, which are advised to strictly adhere to hygiene rules, already started work to welcome their guests and disinfected the venues. They are setting tables 1.5 meters apart from each other while customers will be provided with disposable items, including cutlery. Staff will wear face masks and gloves at all times when serving customers.

According to the circular the Interior Ministry issued, those facilities will operate until 10 p.m.

Daycare centers and kindergartens are also reopening.

The country’s beaches, parks, gardens, driving courses, archaeological sites, libraries, youth centers and camps and museums are also set to welcome visitors.

As part of the reopening, the government has lifted inter-city travel restrictions which were first imposed across 31 provinces in early April. The curbs were later eased to cover only 15 provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.

But restrictions will remain in place on the movements of those aged over 65 and under 18. Children under age 18 can go out on Wednesdays and Fridays between 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

However, the Interior Ministry separately announced that children under the age of 18 would be allowed to travel in and between cities with their parents. It also said that travel permits would no longer be required for inter-city public transportation vehicles.

The normalization plan foresees that all civil servants on administrative leave or working remotely return to work as of June 1.

Meanwhile, conscripts started to be discharged from their military bases on May 31. The discharges of conscripts had been postponed for a month as part of the anti-virus measures.

The discharged soldiers are required to remain in self-isolation for 14 days and to not accept visitors during the quarantine period.

Worshippers in Turkey already held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days on May 29 after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place.

On a related note, a two-day curfew was declared in 15 provinces. The lockdown, which affected Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, began on midnight May 29 and will on midnight May 31.

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