Turkey eases virus lockdown by reopening restaurants, leisure facilities
Turkey will allow restaurants, cafes and a host of leisure facilities to reopen on Monday, as well as lifting inter-city travel restrictions in a further loosening of its coronavirus lockdown, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday.
In a televised address following a weekly Cabinet meeting, the president also said public sector workers, except for those with chronic illnesses, will return to their workplaces on 1 June, while childcare facilities will be allowed to resume their services.
The country closed restaurants, bars, and other gathering places in mid-March after the Covid-19 outbreak which has claimed almost 4,500 lives. It also ordered inter-city travel ban in early April.
After the meeting, Erdogan said the inter-city travel ban would be lifted from June 1 but warned: "If we see anything negative, we could reintroduce the restrictions."
Cafes, museums, restaurants and libraries will open from June 1 as well as sports facilities, beaches and parks. Open air concerts will also be allowed, he said.
Bars and clubs will however remain closed.
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The confinement of the elderly aged over 65 and those under 18 will remain in place "for a while", Erdogan said.
However, youths aged 19 and 20 will now be allowed outdoors, the president added.
Turkey has already started to ease some restrictions this month including the opening of shopping malls, barbers and hair salons.
On Monday, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest markets, will reopen its doors for the first time in two months.
Also, mass prayers will resume outside several mosques across the country on Friday after their suspension in March.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry announced a new, two-day curfew over the weekend in 15 of the country's worst-affected provinces, including Ankara and Istanbul.
Turkey's total number of confirmed infections has surpassed 160,000, with the Health Ministry announcing 1,182 new cases in the past 24 hours and 30 new deaths, raising the total Covid-19 fatalities to 4,461.
Turkey ranks tenth in an international tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases. Experts believe infections globally could be much more than reported.
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