ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey will lift restrictions on intercity travel and allow restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities to reopen from June 1 as it eases restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus outbreak, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Museums and beaches will open from then and civil servants will also begin regular work, he said after a video conference cabinet meeting. Restrictions will remain in place on the movements of those aged over 65 and under 18.
The virus has killed nearly 4,500 people in Turkey, with more than 160,000 infections. The economy is expected to tip into recession as a result of the containment measures, but Erdogan vowed there would be a quick recovery.
“We don’t have the slightest doubt that we will make up for all our losses of the last 2-1/2 months in a short period of time,” Erdogan said in a televised address.
“Let’s definitely wear masks out, maintain physical distance and pay attention to hygiene. These are three essential things for us,” he said.
In early April, Turkey halted travel between 31 cities, including Istanbul, excluding transit passage and essential supplies. It subsequently reduced the restrictions to 15 cities, including Istanbul, but they will end on June 1.
Stay-at-home orders have been also imposed in cities at weekends and during public holidays. The Interior Ministry said there would be a lockdown in those 15 cities this weekend. It was not immediately clear if the weekend orders would then be lifted.
Among other easing measures, Turkey began operating intercity trains on Thursday after a two-month gap and mosques will begin allowing mass prayers from Friday.
(Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans, Kirsten Donovan and Alison Williams)