Tourists in Antalya see Turkey as safe haven amid virus

Foreign tourists, who prefer Antalya for their vacation, have found Turkey to be safe and do not want to return home as global coronavirus infections continue to rise.

COVID-19 measures in the health and tourism fields have given confidence to domestic and foreign tourists in Turkey.

The number of foreign residents in Antalya on the Mediterranean increased after Turkey began international flights and lifting travel restrictions, according to the mukhtar, or head, of Mahmutlar Neighborhood.

Ahmet Top said 12,000 people from 40 nations live in the Neighborhood that has a population of 65,000.

Russians make up half of the figure, and those from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Iran settled in the district by buying or renting homes, according to Top, who said there are no COVID-19 patients in intensive care units at local hospitals and the number of cases are very low compared to foreigners' home countries -- underlining that coronavirus measures are strictly applied in the Neighborhood.

'TURKEY FIRST CHOICE OF RUSSIAN TOURISTS'

"The first choice of the Russians is Antalya, both for a holiday and settling," according to the head of the Russian Art and Culture Association Irina Balci.

There are more than 100,000 foreign residents in Antalya and most of them are Russians, she said.

With reassuring coronavirus measures in Turkey and the start of flights, Russians flocked to the region and a considerable number preferred to rent homes and stay.

"They find here safer and they are waiting for the pandemic to end," she added.

In Turkey, very effective measures were taken against the virus and the risk is less, said Iranian Christine Farami, who has been living in the city for 14 months.

Turkey's overall coronavirus count now stands at 430,170 patients.

The weekly hospital bed occupancy rate is 54.7%, while 3,850 patients are in critical condition, according to Health Ministry figures.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that partial weekend curfews would be imposed to stem the spread of the outbreak.

Curfews would be in effect on weekends, but movement will be allowed between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time to not disrupt supply and production chains.

Cinemas would remain closed until the end of the year.

Malls, markets, restaurants and hairdressers will also open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. but restaurants would only provide delivery service.

A partial curfew that was already in effect for those older than 65 was expanded to include anyone younger than 20, except residents who have to go out for work. They will be allowed outside of their homes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The virus has claimed nearly 1.3 million lives in 191 countries and regions since last December, according to US-based Johns Hopkins University.

More than 56.4 million people have been infected, and an excess of 36.3 million have recovered from the virus.


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