Outdoor mask, social distancing mandate may be scrapped in March
Turkish officials are considering scrapping obligations to wear protective face masks and social distancing starting March as they expect the pandemic situation to improve by then.
If plans go ahead, people will not be required to have their masks on or observe the social distancing rules in parks and streets. The new regulation will also apply to restaurants’ outdoor dining spaces.
Officials reckon that currently the mask mandate is in place for those venues, but it is in reality not enforced.
However, unlike outdoors, face mask mandates will still be in place on public transport, on planes, trains, shopping centers, theaters and cinemas.
Afşin Kayıpmaz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Board, recently said that the pandemic situation in Turkey appears to have stabilized after daily cases surged due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also voiced optimism in his recent comments suggesting that infections will start declining significantly in the coming weeks.
Yet, officials also argue that even though some rules may be lifted, people aged above 65 and those with chronic illnesses must continue to be monitored closely as they are still exposed to risks from the pandemic.
There are 9 million citizens in the country aged above 65 and only 4 million of them are vaccinated, according to officials. As part of measures to project this group, healthcare workers should engage in efforts to persuade the unvaccinated to get their shots, suggested officials.
To date, Turkey has administered more than 145 million doses of the vaccine against the coronavirus with nearly 53 million people having been double jabbed. Around 27 million people have been given a booster shot and more than 57 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.