Turkey to gradually start easing COVID-19 restrictions

Turkey to gradually start easing COVID-19 restrictions

Turkey will gradually start easing restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus as of March, the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"We are starting the gradual normalization process as of the beginning of March by dividing our provinces into four categories in line with criteria established by our health ministry," Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex.

"March will be a month when we will cover a lot of ground in terms of vaccination," the Turkish leader added.

He said that provinces will be categorized as “low”, “medium”, “high” and “very high-risk” based on infection rates and the vaccination process.

The president said some 5.7 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered across the country, adding: "We have made the necessary contacts for [acquiring more] vaccines that we will need in the first place."

Recalling that the government had announced gradual transition to face-to-face education in schools after the last week’s Cabinet meeting, he said the process was delayed in some provinces due to heavy snowfall. The process will continue, Erdogan added.

Turkey on Wednesday reported 7,325 new coronavirus cases, including 649 symptomatic patients, according to the Health Ministry.
 The country's case tally passed 2.6 million, while the nationwide death toll reached 27,738, with 86 fatalities over the past day, Anadolu Agence reported.

On Jan. 14, Turkey began a mass COVID-vaccination campaign, starting with healthcare workers along with top officials to encourage public confidence in the vaccines.

Since last December, Turkey has been implementing curfew on weeknights and a full weekend curfew to curb the spread of the virus.