Turkey to start easing coronavirus restrictions as of Monday: Erdoğan

Turkish President announced Monday what he called a “normalization plan” to gradually ease restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic as the death rate falls, but warned of tougher measures to come should the number of infections rebound.

Turkey will start easing coronavirus containment measures as of Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, lifting intercity travel restriction in seven provinces and easing a curfew imposed for senior and youth citizens at the weekend after weeks.

Ankara has rolled out measures to contain the outbreak, but Erdoğan said on Monday would start easing them in May, June and July as the spreading pace begun slowing over the past two weeks.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan said senior and youth citizens will be allowed outside for 4 hours for one day a week starting this weekend and that travel restrictions would be lifted for seven cities, excluding Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

As of May 13 children up to age 14 will be able to go out within walking distance of their houses from 11 a.m. till 3 p.m.

He said shopping malls, barber shops and some stores will be allowed to open on May 11 as long as they abide by normalisation rules, adding that universities would return to their academic calendar as of June 15.

But, Erdoğan warned that the government would impose much harsher measures if the normalisation plan is not followed.

NOTHING WILL BE LIKE THE NORMAL WE KNEW: ERDOĞAN

Erdoğan stressed that the curfews and limitations have greatly helped combat the epidemic and added that much of the country would face another curfew this coming weekend.

"Of course we will gradually go back to normal life, but we should not forget the reality that, as in the world and our country as well, nothing will be like the normal we knew.

"We do not know how long the epidemic will last, or when the cure for it or medications for it will be found," he said.

Erdoğan said "a new type of normal" awaits the country and that some of the limitations will continue, though in relaxed form.

"Universities will be able to resume their academic calendar on June 15," he said.

The president emphasized that there are still countries struggling with the virus so it is uncertain when international flights will resume.

He added that it is unknown what kind of a picture will emerge from the turmoil in global economic and political balances.

MASKS FOR SALE

As part of the normalization process, Erdoğan said they plan to allow the sale of masks, which they did not previously allow to be sold, adding that a standard price will be set.

Erdoğan stressed that since the virus emerged nearly 65,000 citizens have been brought back to Turkey from abroad.

Turkey has delivered coronavirus aid to at least 57 countries, including the US, Italy, Spain and the UK, and remains the world's third-largest provider of humanitarian aid during the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases have been reported in 187 countries and regions since it emerged in Wuhan, China last December, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

More than 3.53 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll exceeding 248,000, according to data compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University. Over 1.13 million people have recovered.




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