Turkey could discuss easing COVID-19 curbs by region, sources say
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s government is considering a plan to ease some curfews and curbs on restaurants and schools in districts where infections are lightest, and cabinet is set to discuss possible details on Wednesday, two officials told Reuters.
The health ministry began publishing more detailed provincial case numbers on Monday, data that could guide the re-opening of dining at restaurants and cafes as well as schools, the officials said. The data could also trigger tighter restrictions in certain districts.
It was unclear when restrictions adopted in December could be eased or whether final decisions on the plan would be taken this week.
Turkey’s official coronavirus death toll is more than 27,500. Though vaccinations began last month, new daily cases have lingered between 6,000 and 8,000, causing concern.
“Easing of some restrictions in some provinces will be discussed, for example steps such as shortening the curfews and opening of restaurants and cafes under guidelines, especially in big cities, could be taken,” one of the officials said.
The person, who requested anonymity, said the government’s priority is lowering daily cases.
Turkey’s curfews, weekend lockdowns and other curbs were adopted in December in the face of rising cases. It plans a gradual nationwide re-opening of schools beginning March 1.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said last week it would be possible to evaluate the eventual easing of restrictions in certain provinces based on the detailed coronavirus data.
The newly published data show the eastern Black Sea provinces recorded the most cases per 100,000 people while big cities Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir logged 60, 35, and 44 respectively.
Turkey lifted most of its restrictions from the pandemic’s first wave in June of last year. The second official told Reuters that details of the latest easing plan would be decided in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
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