Istanbul, coronavirus pandemic

Turkey lifts most restrictions on coronavirus

As of June 1, restrictions on travel between provinces are removed and cafes, restaurants, museums, parks and beaches reopen. There will be new measures at airports and planes.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced late Thursday that Turkey will lift most of the restrictions imposed to date by the coronavirus starting next Monday, June 1, in yet another step toward the so-called “new normality” leaving behind the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a televised address to the nation after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan announced that travel restrictions that were still in place in the country’s 15 most populous provinces -including Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir– will be lifted on June 1, although later the Interior Ministry confirmed that a two-day curfew will be decreed again this weekend to stop the spread of the virus.

“From June 1, restrictions on travel between provinces will be completely eliminated. We can, however, reimpose this restriction if events oblige us to do so,” warned the Turkish president, further stressing that government will also continue to apply from 1 June, the restrictions for going out into the streets for those over 65 and minors, who can go out from 2 to 8 p.m. two days a week.

Reopening of cafes, restaurants, museums, parks and beaches

Erdoğan explained that from next Monday the public officials who were teleworking or with their suspended functions will return to their jobs. In addition, government will reopen restaurants, cafes, patisseries, gyms, parks, beaches, museums, libraries, swimming pools, archaeological sites, youth centres, nurseries and elderly centres. Outdoor music concerts will also be allowed.

The restrictions on the practice of individual sports are also abolished as of June 1, while nautical sports and fishing may be practised under certain regulations. However, the closure of bars and places dedicated to smoking shisha (hookah bars) is still maintained for now.

The Turkish president’s announcement comes after the latest data on the evolution of the pandemic in Turkey have produced very positive figures; although Turkey is among the 10 countries that have registered the most cases of coronavirus, more than 75% of the patients have been cured and it has less than 40,000 cases still active, while the mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world with less than 4,500 deceased.

New operating rules at airports

On the other hand, the Turkish civil aviation authorities have announced the new operating rules at the country’s airports, in which some restrictions are lifted but new rules are applied to comply with the health certification system that the Ministry of Health is carrying out.

Thus, for example, only passengers and their companions will be allowed to enter the airports from now on, and access by other people will be prohibited; all those who access the airport facilities must be provided with a face mask, and all passengers will be checked before boarding the plane, where cabin luggage will be prohibited with the exception of laptops, bags and necessary objects for children.

In restaurant areas, menus printed on paper will be replaced by others in digital format and, if necessary, establishments may be required to use disposable cutlery, plates and glasses. Strict compliance with the safety distance will be ensured at passenger terminals, especially at checkpoints and in the check-in area.

In addition, in Turkey’s airports, ventilation systems will circulate only fresh air, and some of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus will remain in places such as children’s areas, smoking rooms and prayer rooms, the use of which may be limited or even prohibited if the authorities consider that there is a risk of contagion.