The new coronavirus has brought life in Turkey to a near standstill, closing businesses, canceling large gatherings, and keeping people at home. Everyone is currently wondering: When will things return to normal?Turkey's main opposition urges Health Minister to relax COVID-19 travel bans for seniors, seasonal workers
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 28 that a schedule for returning to normal would be announced soon.
“During yesterday's Cabinet meeting, we conducted the initial work regarding the timeline to normalize our country. After this work ripens a little more, we will also share this normalization schedule with our nation,” Erdoğan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) via videoconference.
“We are aware that people aged over 65 and under 20 have not left their homes for weeks now. And we are aware of what a curfew lasting up to four days means for our people,” Erdoğan said, referring to the most recent four-day lockdown in Turkey's 31 provinces.
“We are aware of the cost of such restrictions for our nation. However, if we do not do make sacrifices in this period and overcome the epidemic simultaneously with other countries, we are aware that we will pay greater sacrifices. So, we have been all together patient and hopefully we are coming towards to the result. We will be patient just a bit longer and embrace the good days,” he said.Turkey to send coronavirus protective gear to United States, says Erdoğan
A day earlier, Erdoğan said that Turkey will continue implementing weekend curfews in 31 provinces until after Eid al-Fitr in late May to curb the spread of the virus, with the fourth consecutive curfew taking place between May 1-3.
The country has already imposed lockdowns over the past three weekends, but the third consecutive lockdown of last week was longer and covered four days due to the April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
During the week, the stay-at-home order only applies to those under the age of 20 or over 65. All other citizens are in theory allowed to go out, although authorities urge to them to stay at home if possible.
The government has been recently signaling that the country aims to return to normal life after the Eid holiday.
A senior official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters on April 28 that the government aims to begin reviving the economy in late May, while minimizing any risk of a second wave of infections.Coronavirus spread can re-accelerate if it's not fully contained, Turkish professor warns
"When we look at the case and death numbers we have come to a positive point. As of this moment, there is a possibility for the economy to reopen," the senior official told Reuters.
"Recent studies have indicated that a reopening of the economy will be possible at the end of May and current developments confirmed this. Steps will be taken to reopen without allowing a second wave of infections."
Separately, the head of a Turkish shopping malls association said that there were plans for a gradual reopening from May 11 depending on demand from retailers and approval from a health authority advisory board.
In an interview, Huseyin Altaş of the Council of Shopping Centres said a planned phased reopening from May 11 would probably initially exclude cinemas, playgrounds and restaurants - where sticking to social-distancing rules would be most challenging - until the government gives approval.
Those in hard-hit cities such as Istanbul - the worst area of outbreak in Turkey - may remain closed longer, he said, adding that all malls nationwide could reopen by June.
Turkey is seventh globally in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus at more than 112,000. And while some 2,900 people have died, there has been a fall in newly reported deaths over the last eight days.