Turkey eases Covid restrictions but curfews remain

16 May 2021, 09:54

Bosphorus Strait
Virus Outbreak Turkey. Picture: PA

The country is aiming to save its crucial tourism season, which was devastated last summer.

Turkey’s full lockdown which required people to stay at home to fight Covid-19 infections has been lifted, with a less-restrictive programme brought in that still involves curfews on weeknights and weekends.

In a new directive, the country’s interior ministry called the steps that apply until June 1 a “gradual normalisation”.

Shopping centres will be able to reopen and restaurants can offer takeaway in addition to delivery, but cafes and gyms remain closed.

People on bikes
People ride bicycles on a deserted road during lockdown in Ankara (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

Pre-school centres will resume in-person education but upper grades will continue remote learning.

Turks can return to their workplaces but will have to stay at home from 9pm to 5am on weekdays and all day on the weekends, with the exception of walking to a market to buy food.

Civil servants will continue working remotely or in shifts in offices.

Foreign tourists and workers with special permits are exempt.

Unvaccinated people aged over 65 will only be allowed to leave their homes between 10am and 2pm on weekdays.

Intercity travel during curfews is subject to permission.

Boys jump in water
Youths jump from the Galata Bridge into the Golden Horn leading to the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul (Emrah Gurel/AP)

Despite the curfew, hundreds of football fans were out in Istanbul late on Saturday to celebrate the Super League win for Besiktas.

New infections and Covid deaths exploded after Turkey lifted most restrictions in March, prompting the government to introduce a full lockdown at the end of April.

It was the strictest measure the government had taken since the beginning of the pandemic, following record new cases above 60,000 a day.

Health ministry statistics show 11,472 new cases were reported on Saturday and an overall confirmed death toll of 44,537.

Experts say both numbers, like in many nations, are undercounts due to limited testing and missed cases.

Turkey’s president said the Covid restrictions aim to reduce new cases to below 5,000 a day so the country’s vital tourism industry is not devastated for the second summer in a row.

By Press Association