As Turkey has initiated yet another attempt to return life to normal amid a fluctuating outlook on the coronavirus pandemic, many people across the country were left wondering where the ever-changing rules stood this time.
In a lengthy circular, the Interior Ministry announced the new rules and eased restrictions that will dominate the lives of millions across the country for the duration of June. Here is a quick and no-nonsense explainer for Turkey’s normalization period that will run for the month.
The government decided to act rather cautious when it came to curfews, opting to further relax weekday curfews but didn’t completely abandon them. The weekday curfews now start at 10 p.m. and last until 5 a.m.
For weekends, a whole day lockdown will be in place on Sundays, but people will be allowed to out on Saturdays during the same time period as weekday curfews.
Seniors aged 65 and above won't face any additional curfew hours if they have had both of their COVID-19 vaccine doses, but those who have not will only be allowed to out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Perhaps the most anticipated easing of the strict measures was allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen, allowing people to finally remember what it felt like to eat or drink outside the confinements of their homes.
As expected, the government allowed restaurants, cafes and other places serving food or drinks to open with certain restrictions.
With the new rules, the restaurants can now serve customers from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. After 9 p.m. the restaurants will have to stop serving sit-in customers, but they will still be allowed to continue serving deliveries until midnight. On Sundays, the restaurants will only serve delivery orders, in line with the all-day lockdown.
Another important restriction is restaurants will only be allowed to seat three customers per table they have outdoors and only two for indoor tables.
Closed since November last year, movie theaters will reopen with capacity restrictions.
According to the Health Ministry guidelines, theaters will be allowed to operate during the same hours as restaurants – from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. They will, however, have to operate at 50% seating capacity as the ministry ordered every other seat to be left empty.
Similarly, shopping malls will be allowed to operate in the same time periods.
Gyms, meanwhile, will continue to be closed as they were still deemed high-risk environments for the coronavirus. The same goes for public swimming pools, bathhouses, saunas and similar places.
Like with the previous lockdowns, grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, greengrocers, dessert shops and specialty shops selling dried fruits and nuts (kuruyemişçi) will remain open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, despite the lockdowns.
People, however, will only be allowed to shop from their nearest store within walking distance as travel with private vehicles will be banned during lockdown hours.
Public and private hospitals will continue to operate normally. Anyone with a doctor's appointment, including one for a COVID-19 vaccine, or a medical emergency will be exempted from curfew hours.
In addition to hospitals, pharmacies will continue to operate on their regular schedule. People will be allowed to visit their nearest pharmacy on foot without violating the lockdown.
Tourists visiting the country will be exempt from curfews. Foreigners living in Turkey who have short or long-term residence permits or work visas, however, are not considered tourists and will have to comply with curfew hours.
People will be allowed to travel between cities by car only when the curfew is not in effect, but travel by bus or airplane will be allowed at all times.
However, people who can provide proof of a reservation for accommodation in a different city will be allowed to travel with their own vehicles during curfew times.
For commuters, a 50% capacity reduction in all mass transit vehicles will remain in place.
For those who fail to comply with the new rules, hefty fines await if they are caught outside during the lockdown.
Police officers will hand a TL 3,150 ($365) fine to anyone caught violating the lockdown rules. If you are caught without a mask, which is currently mandatory indoors and outdoors, you may be issued an extra TL 900 ($105) fine.
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