President Erdoğan reveals coronavirus normalization plan
Turkey will start easing coronavirus containment measures as of May 11, President 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 May 4 Turkey 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. People over age 65 will be allowed to go outside for four hours a day on May 10 while on 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., and people age 15-20 will be able to go out on May 15 under the same conditions.
Travel restrictions would be lifted for seven cities, excluding Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir; namely Antalya, Aydın, Erzurum, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin, and Muğla.
He said shopping malls, barber shops, and some stores will be allowed to open on May 11 as long as they abide by normalization rules, adding that universities would return to their academic calendar as of June 15.
He added that a National Solidarity Campaign to raise money to fight the virus and its impact had netted some 1.91 billion Turkish liras ($271 million) in donations.
‘Nothing will be like the normal we knew’
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 a relaxed form.
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 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 will no longer tolerate harassment in Syria safe zone'
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also touched upon foreign policy issues saying that Turkey will no longer tolerate terrorist harassment in the Idlib safe zone in northwestern Syria or ramped-up attacks which flout agreements.
Terrorist groups are trying to exploit Turkey's preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic to step up attacks both within Turkey’s borders and beyond, Erdoğan said.
"This attitude alone is enough to show how far the terrorist group is from humanity," he stated.
Erdoğan said the Turkish Armed Forces are pursuing and neutralizing terrorists non-stop, adding that its operations across the border also continue without interruption.
"We closely monitor every step of members of the terrorist group operating in a wide area in northern Iraq and Syria."
He stressed that Turkey immediately neutralizes members of the terrorist group trying to infiltrate secured areas in Syria.
"We invite countries that have influence in the region to comply with our permanent agreements, to keep the terrorist group outside the determined borders, and to prevent regime attacks," Erdoğan added.
Erdogan stressed that unfortunately no country is "fully fulfilling its promise" in this regard.
If those who support the terrorist group and regime cannot control them, he said, with its own Turkey will bring them to their knees.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018 and subsequent cease-fires. The Assad regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fires, launching frequent attacks inside the zone.
Erdoğan also said Turkey is determined to continue supporting Libya’s legitimate Libyan government to transform the area into a region of peace.
"The safety of Libya and the peace and well-being of the Libyan people are the key to the stability of all North Africa and the Mediterranean."
He also said thanks to Turkey's support for the legitimate government the putschist Khalifa Haftar is losing ground.
Countries that provide him unlimited financial support and weapons will not be enough to save Haftar, who also faces opposition from locals in the lands he occupies with every step he takes, said Erdoğan, adding: "Hopefully, we
will soon receive new good news from Libya."