Turkey eases lockdowns, partially reopens restaurants

Turkey has rolled out its plan to soften COVID-19 restrictions, easing weekend lockdowns in low and medium-risk provinces, while allowing limited reopening of restaurants and beginning face-to-face education in most of schools.

Under the “controlled normalization” strategy, details of which President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan announced on March 1 following a cabinet meeting, weekend lockdowns, in place since December, have been lifted in low and medium-risk provinces, while restrictions on Sundays will continue in provinces classified as high risk or very high risk.

Weeknight curfews, which last from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., however, will remain in place in all 81 provinces of the country.

In low- and medium-risk provinces, curfew restrictions will be lifted for people aged 65 and above as well as those under 20.

Restaurant reopening

As part of the normalization program, cafes and restaurants have also been allowed to re-open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 50 percent capacity in all provinces except for very high-risk ones.

The government shut down all restaurants for indoor dining late last year to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Since then they had been only allowed to provide takeaway and delivery services.

As they are resuming operations, restaurants and cafes will ask customers to provide a valid coronavirus contact tracing HES code. Those businesses will offer only takeaway and delivery services between 7.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. while offering only delivery services from 9.00 p.m. to 12.00 a.m.

Meanwhile, all pre-school education institutions across the country, elementary schools, grades eight through 12 resumed in-class education yesterday. Participation in face-to-face education will depend on parental consent.

According to the normalization plan, in low- and medium-risk provinces, wedding ceremonies that are up to one hour long can be held with up to 100 people attending, and with a maximum of 50 people in high-risk and very high-risk provinces. Also, in low- and medium-risk provinces, swimming pools will be able to operate between 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m., provided that the HES code is used at the entrances.


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