Turkey begins to roll back COVID-19 measures, reopens restaurants and schools
Turkey on Monday reopened most restaurants for indoor dining and allowed more students to return to school as it rolled back tough coronavirus restrictions.
The nation of 83 million people considers itself relatively lucky after recording less than 29,000 virus deaths and avoiding soaring daily tolls suffered in European countries such as Britain and France.
But the economic cost of Turkish health restrictions has been high.
The government shut down all restaurants for indoor dining in November and imposed weekend lockdowns nationwide.
These measures will now be lifted in regions with lower infection rates.
“A new, controlled normalization is starting,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in televised remarks.
Some of Turkey’s highest infection rates have been recorded in northern Black Sea regions while the lowest ones are found in the predominantly Kurdish southeast.
Most Turkish restaurants can now begin operating at up to 50 percent capacity from 7:00am to 7:00pm.
The weekend-long lockdown for Istanbul’s 15.5 million residents will be applied to Sunday only. It will be lifted completely for low-risk regions in the southeast.
Preschools and elementary schools are to reopen across the country. All older students will also return to high schools in low and medium-risk regions, which include the capital Ankara.
Turkey’s reopening comes after more than seven million people received at least one dose of the CoronaVac jab acquired from the Chinese company Sinovac.
Nearly two million Turks have received the full two doses since the campaign was launched in mid-January.