Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

A professor from the Health Ministry’s Science Committee has said that Turkey can return to normal in three months if measures implemented against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to be abided by.

“In a positive scenario, return to normal can take place in three months if measures are followed. When we look at the negative scenario, caution is needed to prevent a second wave,” Prof. Tevfik Özlü told Duvar on May 5.

A day earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey will start to ease restrictions following a decrease in the number of cases and the death toll.

Shopping malls, clothing stores, hairdressers and barber shops will be reopened as of May 11 as they long as they abide by the normalization rules, Erdoğan said.

He said that travel restrictions will be lifted for seven provinces, excluding Istanbul, the capital Ankara and the western province of İzmir. The restrictions will be lifted for Erzurum, Aydın, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin, Antalya and Muğla but remain in place for 24 other provinces, Erdoğan said.

Özlü said that the normalization steps were prepared in line with the suggestions of the committee.

“We can see that the outbreak is waning in not only Turkey, but in the world. We are heading towards a period that’s appropriate for discussing normalization. Life needs to return to normal and we can’t normalize by sitting at home,” Özlü said.

“We are trying to get our lives back from the virus. The virus has not been eliminated, it will continue to threaten us. Our struggle against the pandemic may continue until mid-2021. There’s no need to panic, things aren’t going bad,” he added.

Saying that necessary caution must be shown to prevent a second wave, Özlü said, “Our lives won’t be the same.”

“We now know the virus and saw that we can tackle it. Our lives won’t be the same as it was. We will have new norms and new forms of living. We will learn to live with the virus, but necessary attention must be paid to prevent a second wave,” he said.

When asked whether lifting travel restrictions in seven provinces, mainly tourism hub Antalya, and opening malls as early as May 11 would pose a risk, Özlü said, “The normalization process bears risks in itself already.”

“When we get on a plane, there is the risk of it crashing. If you can adopt decisions scientifically and in line with rational foresight, you can manage the process,” he said.

“We can’t ignore the fact that opening malls bears risks in the normalization process. However, these risks can be managed. Besides, steps can be taken back in this process. A step was taken to lift the travel restrictions in seven provinces and lifting in others may be delayed depending on the results,” Özlü added.

The professor also listed four suggestions of the Science Committee that applies to all sectors.

“We need to switch to normal in a way that we would protect a social distance of one or two meters. The use of masks will continue in social areas. The issue of hand sanitation will continue to be significant for all of us. Furthermore, disinfection will be important,” Özlü said.

Another prominent professor, however, was more cautious in his expectations of a return to normal.

“We’re not even in the middle of the outbreak. We haven’t completed anything yet. All the efforts would go wasted and we can return to where we started if we relax. So, let’s continue to abide by the rules cautiously at the point that we have succeeded a lot,” Prof. Mehmet Ceylan said on May 5.