Turkey mulling three-stage normalization plan
Within the scope of its normalization plan, Turkey is considering a three-stage strategy to be implemented after the full lockdown ends on May 17, including the lifting of restrictions on restaurants and cafes in the first stage.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said earlier this week that Turkey would gradually ease lockdown restrictions after the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday as the coronavirus cases and fatalities continue to fall nationwide.
According to the plan under consideration, in the first phase of the normalization, restaurants and cafes will reopen, but will be allowed to serve until 8 p.m., private broadcaster CNN Türk reported.
Moreover, curfews will begin at 9 p.m. and not at 7 p.m., as was the case previously, while curfews on Saturdays will be totally lifted. However, Sunday curfews are expected to remain in place during the first stage of the normalization.
Online education for students will continue, but schools are likely to reopen in September or October, depending on the pace of the outbreak.
In the second stage of the normalization, which is expected to start at the end of May, the business hours of cafes and restaurants will be extended to 10 p.m., but those venues will serve customers outdoors at 50 percent capacity. Smaller establishments such as tea houses will need permission from the governor’s offices to operate.
In this phase of the reopening, Sunday curfews are expected to be lifted.
More restrictions will be eased, such as allowing wedding ceremonies with some curbs, in the third stage of the reopening slated to begin in July.
In this phase, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to welcome customers until 11:45 p.m, but indoor dining will still be banned.
Officials are also working on plans to manage the traffic on roads after the Eid holiday. Millions of people left big cities, such as Istanbul and Ankara, before the full lockdown began on April 29 for resorts and their hometowns to visit relatives and spend the Eid break there. Millions of people will be on the move again after the holiday. Officials are floating the idea that people may be allowed to return to cities in groups.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on May 12 that one of the main issues for them was the mobility on the roads after the Eid holiday.
He noted that more than 2 million people have applied to obtain permission to travel during the lockdown. “We have granted some 946,000 such permission and rejected another 982,000 applications while some 106,000 permission applications are pending,” he said.
Soylu added that during and after the Eid holiday, around 17,000 personnel would conduct inspections on intercity travel at 1,200 checkpoints on the highways. Another 79,000 security personnel will be on duty at 6,000 checkpoints in the cities, he said, noting that additional 78,000 personnel would carry out inspections to ensure anti-virus measures were properly observed.
Officials started to collect data on public transport each morning since the outbreak began, Soylu said. “Data showed that public transport systems served some 10 million people in the country’s 18 metropolitan municipalities. When regular restrictions were in effect, this figure dropped to around 3 million to 4 million. However, under the full lockdown, this number is hovering at around 500,000 to 700,000,” he said.
The minister also informed that more than 10.5 million people were issued permits, which allow people to go to work during the lockdown.