Turks enjoy first lockdown-free weekend in nearly two months


Cafes, restaurants and other facilities were allowed to reopen on Monday as Turkey’s COVID-19 infection rates slowed. (Photo: CGTN)

Turks ventured outdoors on Saturday for their first weekend without lockdown restrictions that lasted nearly two months, a day after President Tayyip Erdogan lifted a stay-at-home order.

Cafes, restaurants and other facilities were allowed to reopen on Monday as the country’s infection rates slowed. The government has also lifted intercity travel, allowing people to make long journeys for the first time in weeks.

President Erdogan had initially planned to maintain the weekend lockdown imposed on big cities since April 11, but a public backlash saw the decision rescinded.

On Saturday, Turks thronged beaches and shores in Istanbul, and hundreds queued to enter parks. Similar scenes were witnessed in Ankara.

“The last time I was here was 70 days ago,” Reuters quotes Gulay Cevik, a housewife in Istanbul who was fishing in the Eminonu district. “I would always come here to fish, but since the outbreak we’ve had to protect ourselves a bit. But I really missed it.”

Cevdet Akaydan, a 23-year-old public servant, was out swimming with his friends along the shore in western Istanbul.

“It’s really nice, very clean and cool right now, it relaxes you,” he said. “Everyone should come, and go in ... You can’t explain it, you have to experience it.”

Turkey has reported 168,340 COVID-19 cases and 4,648 deaths, according to data from the US-based Johns Hopkins University.