Turkey eases COVID-19 restrictions, partially reopens restaurants
Turkey has eased COVID-19-related restrictions under its gradual normalization plan, shortening curfew hours and partially reopening restaurants and cafes.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced new rules on May 31 following a highly-anticipated cabinet meeting, saying that the country would intensify its vaccination drive in June.
Under the gradual normalization plan, restaurants and cafes are now allowed to offer indoor dining under certain restrictions between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m, while their delivery services will continue until midnight.
Eateries will serve only two customers at the same table inside the venues while there will be a maximum of three people to a table in outdoor seating.
Curfews, which previously came into effect at 9 p.m., will be in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m on weekdays and Saturdays, while a full lockdown will be imposed on Sundays.
Gyms also reopened on June 1, while movie theaters are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity. Shopping centers will operate from 7 a.m to 9 p.m. but will be closed on Sundays.
Meanwhile, indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies could be held in line with virus rules. At indoor venues, the number of guests is limited to 100 people.
Primary school students on June 1 returned to classrooms. They will attend in-person lessons two days a week, but this will not be compulsory. Middle and high school students will do the same from June 7, while universities will start the new academic year on Sept. 13.
After the daily number of COVID-19 cases soared to above 60,000 in April, Turkey imposed a partial lockdown from April 29 to May 17, which helped the country reduce the daily number of infections.
Since May 20, the number of daily coronavirus cases has been below 10,000.
The new measures will be reassessed in July by taking into account the number of vaccinations, death toll and coronavirus cases, Erdoğan said.
“We will push the means to the fullest in order to turn June into a month of vaccine mobilization,” the president also said.
Erdoğan underlined that the government has been preparing intensively to get the highest possible amount of different vaccines for which contracts have been signed, such as BioNTech, Sinovac and Sputnik V, and administer them quickly.
The country has already administered nearly 29.2 million doses of COVID-19 jabs since it rolled out its inoculation program on Jan. 14.
To date, some 17 million people have received their first dose of the vaccine, while more than 12.5 million have received both vaccine doses.