Turkey unveils new virus restriction easing plans

ANKARA, TURKEY (AP) — Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday revealed new plans to ease restrictions in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the July 1 reopening of theatres, cinemas and other entertainment centres.

In a televised addressed following his first face-to-face meeting with Cabinet members — after almost three months of teleconference meetings — Recep Tayyip Erdogan also announced that marriage registration halls will reopen for large gatherings on June 15 while wedding party halls will resume operations on July 1.

The government is also relaxing restrictions that were in place on the movement of the senior citizens and minors, Erdogan said. People aged 65 and above will now be able to go out everyday between 10am and 8pm — instead of just once a week — while minors will be allowed out anytime as long as they are accompanied by a parent.

Erdogan’s new measures come amid concerns of complacency within the population following last week’s loosening of restrictions, including the resumption of domestic flights and the opening of restaurants, cafes, gyms, parks, beaches and museums. Many people flocked to parks, seafronts and picnic locations without heeding social distancing or wearing masks.

Erdogan said, however, that he believes the large crowds are “the exception” and that the

population is generally abiding by the rules.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced 993 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, up from Monday’s 914 cases. The number of people in intensive rose to 642 from Monday’s 625, according to data he posted on Twitter. Turkey now has a total of 172,114 confirmed cases and 4,729 deaths.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks after a Cabinet meeting, in Ankara, Turkey. PHOTO: AP