Erdogan begins to ease Turkey's coronavirus restrictions

Number of Covid-19 deaths in country rises by 65 to 3,461

epa08394380 A man wearing a protective face mask walks on crutches in front of the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, 30 April 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan announced that there will be curfew in 31 big cities, including Istanbul (the country's most populous urban agglomeration), between 01-03 May due to the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The government has also decreed the cancellation of public events and has temporarily shut down schools and suspended sporting events.  EPA/SEDAT SUNA
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Turkey will start easing coronavirus measures from Monday, lifting inter-city travel restrictions in seven provinces and easing a curfew on senior and youth citizens, President Tayyip Erdogan said.

Turkey has about 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases – the highest total outside Western Europe, the US and Russia – and has been in lockdown at weekends and national holidays since the start of April.

Ankara started introducing containment measures after its first coronavirus case was reported in early March.

It has imposed travel restrictions in 31 major cities and shut schools, restaurants, bars and shops.

But Mr Erdogan on Monday said Turkey would start easing measures gradually in May, June and July after the spread of the virus slowed over the past two weeks.

The number of fatalities in Turkey has risen by 65 to 3,461 in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed on Monday.

The number of cases increased by 1,614 to 127,659.

After a Cabinet meeting, Mr Erdogan said seniors and young citizens would be allowed outside for four hours on one day a week from next weekend.

He said travel restrictions would be lifted for seven cities, excluding Istanbul, Izmir and the capital, Ankara.

The restrictions would be lifted for Erzurum, Aydin, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin, Antalya and Mugla, but stay in place for 24 other provinces, Mr Erdogan said.

Malls, barbershops and some stores will be allowed to open on May 11 provided they abide by normalisation rules. Uuniversities will return to their academic calendar on June 15.

"We will implement this normalisation plan dynamically," Mr Erdogan said in a national address.

"Some dates may be brought forward or pushed back depending on developments.

"We will, as all 83 million people, determine when and how we will return to our lives.

"If measures are not followed and the outbreak spreads once again, we will have to take much harsher measures."

After recording one of the fastest growth rates for Covid-19 infections in the world, Turkey said the outbreak hit a plateau about six weeks after the first case was confirmed.