Istanbul, empty streets due to coronavirus

Turkey plans to start de-escalation from coronavirus in May

Once the coronavirus is released, the government’s plans go back to a “new normality” and to boost the economy to minimise the impact of the crisis on companies and workers.

The Turkish government is already working on a de-escalation plan to gradually restart economic activity in Turkey in late May once the worst of the coronavirus pandemic has passed; however, it will be a transition towards a return not to normality, but to a “new normality“, as explained by Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.

Several countries have already announced plans to partially relax quarantine and confinement measures and thus try to alleviate what analysts predict is the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. In statements to the Hürriyet newspaper, Oktay noted that The latest data on the evolution of COVID-19 in Turkey mark a downward trend, although it is still early to know if a reopening will be possible after Ramadan.

“Our fight against the virus continues with success. The downward trend has started. Our wish is for it to increase in May. Our goal is to gradually make life in the country more normal without losing what we have achieved in this battle” Oktay said, indicating that the government’s plans are to open all sectors – public and private – step by step so as not to jeopardise the achievements against the virus.

“We are working with a comprehensive approach, taking into account the views of the Ministry of Health and the Scientific Council. We are almost at the end. The roadmap needs to be planned in phases. We could define it as a dynamic process,” added the Turkish vice president. For now, the government has already announced that online classes for 18 million students will continue until at least May 31st.

Return to a “new normality”

However, Oktay wanted to make clear that the plans that the government is considering are not about making everything go back to the way it was before the pandemic; on the contrary, it will be a “new normality” in which hygiene and social distancing measures will be maintained, along with the obligatory use of masks in public places or those with a large influx of people.

All workplaces and all industries must comply with these standards, and strict controls and inspections will be carried out, according to the vice president, who also stressed that the roadmap prepared by the government takes into account all possible scenarios, from the most positive to the most negative, which would include a new outbreak of cases.

“No one is saying that this process, or that the virus, is over. We are prepared for all possibilities,” said Oktay. The government is therefore working on plans on how to act if coronavirus cases are detected once the normalisation process is underway.

“In this way, all relevant institutions will know what to do in such a situation,” he added. “The (acting) conditions are being set now, better than in the midst of panic. They will become guides and be distributed to the relevant authorities,” Oktay explained.

Resumption of flights at the end of May

According to the Turkish vice president, it is still too early to say whether the normalization process can be carried out after the end of Ramadan, as was suggested a few days ago by President Tayyip Erdoğan. “On the other hand, we want to revive the economy. Hopefully we will be able to return Turkey to normal without losing our achievements (against the virus),” he said.

According to some information published in the press, the Turkish aviation authorities are considering the possibility of resuming some flights as early as May 15th, and there is a desire inside the government to do so no later than the end of May, once the Ramadan is over.

However, there are many points to take into account in order to be able to resume – even partially – flights: from social distancing measures within the plane itself, to how to dispatch tickets or manage check-in at airports, or how to pass the security controls and access planes.

In addition to studying de-escalation plans once coronavirus cases have subsided, the Cabinet of Ministers on Monday discussed the possibility of applying new incentives and tax cuts to protect companies and workers from the crisis. Precisely aviation, together with tourism, are the two sectors that have been most affected and are also one of the main concerns of the government, which hopes to achieve positive GDP growth in the second half of the year to minimise the recession.