Turkey's normalization process has started Monday as the government decided to ease restrictions related to the novel coronavirus, considering the country’s advances in fighting the pandemic.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said they will never make compromises on wearing masks, social distancing, personal and general hygiene.
The country continues the normalization process through high-level measures to protect community healthcare, Karaismailoglu added.
Travel restrictions gradually lifted
Domestic flights resumed as part of the normalization process after the months-long virus restrictions, with the first flights from Istanbul to major cities of Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Trabzon provinces.
Turkish Airlines made its first flight from Istanbul to Ankara, carrying 156 passengers after 59 day-long break.
The first flight from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport headed to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport by Pegasus Airlines.
With the entry and exit restrictions in 15 provinces lifted as of midnight May 31, dozens of people poured into bus terminals. Bus companies added additional trips to supply the high demand of passengers.
Social life restrictions eased
Restaurants, cafes, patisseries, coffee shops, and similar venues, whose activities were temporarily restricted as part of the measures against the COVID-19, were reopened as part of new regulations.
These places would accept a certain number of customers wearing masks. Table arrangements for the customers will be made considering social distancing.
But certain restrictions will remain on entertainment venues, including board games and hookah-smoking.
Natural and national parks, gardens, picnic and recreational areas, hiking and fishing, as well as beaches are available for visitors, while outdoor barbecues will remain restricted.
Many people in the Mediterranean province of Antalya went to the seaside and enjoyed the sunshine. Sunbeds and umbrellas were placed abiding by social distancing. Some warnings and direction signs were also placed on the beaches.
Swimming pools, hot springs, Turkish baths, saunas and spas resumed services within certain precautionary rules. Sports centers and facilities also reopened.
The number of people in sports centers will be limited to one person per six square meters (64.5 square feet), the Health Ministry announced.
It is not appropriate to perform team games and other branches of sports that require close contact, including boxing and wrestling, added the ministry added.
Meanwhile, museums and archeological sites are ready to host visitors by considering hygiene measures and social distance.
The Mevlana Museum, dedicated to the 13th-century Muslim poet and mystic Mevlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi, located in the central Konya province, opened its doors to visitors with a sema ceremony, also known as Mevlevi Ayin-i Sherif.
Abdussettar Yarar, the provincial director of culture and tourism, told Anadolu Agency they will respect all measures, including limits on the number of visitors and social distancing.
Meanwhile, non-contact visits in prisons, which were halted on March 13, began on Monday. Convicts and detainees could only meet with one of their relatives by wearing masks.
As of Monday, civil servants on administrative leave or working remotely will return to their workplaces.
Spread of pandemic
The pandemic has claimed more than 372,400 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in China last December. The US and Europe are currently the world’s worst-hit regions.
Over 6.18 million cases have been reported worldwide. More than 2.65 million people have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.
Turkey has so far confirmed 163,942 cases, while recoveries neared 128,000. The virus has killed 4,540 people so far, according to the Health Ministry data.