Turkey lifting lockdowns in some cities as part of pandemic normalisation

Turkey will begin a “controlled normalization” of coronavirus measures by lifting weekend lockdowns in low and medium-risk cities and limiting the restrictions to just Sundays in high and very high-risk cities, President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday.

Turkish officials have designated Istanbul, the country’s most populous city, as high risk, while the capital Ankara remains in the medium-risk category, T24 new site cited Erdoğan as saying following a cabinet meeting.

In-class learning will resume in all pre-schools, primary schools, and grades eight and middle and high schools will open their doors to students in low and medium-risk cities, he said.

“Restaurants, cafes, patisseries, coffee and tea houses, and similar places that are not in high-risk provinces will be allowed to operate between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.’’ Erdoğan said, expanding current operation hours restricted due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Going forward, officials will determine tightening or easing measures on a case-by-case basis, Erdoğan said, noting that all provinces will be evaluated for risk on a bi-weekly basis.

Turkey tightened COVID-19 measures December amid a second wave of outbreak. Authorities imposed a partial curfew during weekdays and a weekend curfew from 9 p.m. each Friday until 5 a.m. the following Monday. A range of measures remains in force outside curfew hours, including limited hours and take out only services for restaurants and cafes.

Turkey in mid-January launched a mass vaccination campaign against the virus and to date almost seven million citizens have received their first dose of the jab.

Turkey’s COVID-19 related deaths on Monday increased by 69, according to health ministry data, raising the death toll since last March to 28,638.