President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 28 Turkey will lift restrictions on intercity travel and allow restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities to reopen from June 1 as it eases restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Following a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan revealed the new normalization plan of the government. “The measures taken have provided the opportunity to take new steps for the new normalization process,” he said.
As of June 1, the government will lift current inter-city travel restrictions which were first imposed across 31 provinces in early April to stem the spread of the virus and later lifted it partially, he said.
Erdoğan, however, noted that restrictions would 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.
As of June 1, civil servants on administrative leave or working remotely will return to their offices, Erdoğan said.
He went on to say that excluding places of entertainment, enterprises such as restaurants, patisseries, cafes, tea gardens, swimming pools, and hot springs will also reopen. Also, the motorway service area will begin to serve on June 1, he said.
Moreover, beaches, parks, gardens, driving courses, restaurants, archaeological sites, libraries, youth centers and camps, and museums in Turkey will reopen on the same day. Daycare centers and kindergartens will also reopen starting June, he said.
Meanwhile, restrictions on individual sports have ended, while restrictions on sea tourism, fishing, and transportation were also lifted within the determined rules, Erdoğan added.
He added that during the lockdown the government’s Vefa social support groups reached out to over 6.2 million people by providing them essential services at home.
Turkey will continue to support the people and the business world in the period ahead as well, he emphasized. “The credit for our country’s exemplary position regarding the death toll as well as its success in curbing the pandemic goes to all of us as Turkey’s 83 million citizens,” Erdoğan stated.
Turkey, so far, has evacuated 75,000 of its citizens from 126 different countries amid the coronavirus lockdown, he said. “Turkey responded to calls for help from 100 out of 135 countries that asked for help against COVID-19,” he said.
Turkey will amply retrieve as soon as possible what it has lost over the past two and a half months, he stressed.
“As a matter of fact, there are already signs that Turkey will obtain a highly favorable place in the global system which is going through a political and economic restructuring. Turkey stands out as a shining star in every sphere of life from industry, technology, trade, agriculture, energy, transportation and healthcare to education, sports and defense industry. Not repeating the mistakes made previously in the aftermaths of the Second World War and the Cold War, we will, God willing, ensure that the opportunities coming our country’s way will be seized this time,” he said.
Some mosques reopened amid infection slowdown
In the meantime, worshippers in Turkey have held their first communal Friday prayers in 74 days after the government reopened some mosques as part of its plans to relax measures in place to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Prayers were held in the courtyards of selected mosques, to minimize the risk of infection.
Authorities distributed masks at the entrance to the mosques, sprayed hand sanitizers, and checked temperatures.
Worshippers were asked to bring their own prayer rugs, but some mosques offered disposable paper rugs which were placed 1.5 meters apart.
Turkey imposes weekend curfew in 15 provinces
Meanwhile, Turkey imposed a two-day curfew in 15 provinces beginning midnight on May 29 in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed nearly 4,500 lives in the country.
The curfew will be in effect in Ankara as well as Istanbul, İzmir, Balıkesir, Bursa, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun, Van and Zonguldak.
Markets, grocery stores, greengrocers and butchers will continue to operate from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time (0700GMT -1400GMT) May 30, but will close May 31.
Also, bakeries will remain open during the curfew. The first curfew was declared April 11-12 and was followed by subsequent ones in recent weeks.