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Turkey eases coronavirus curbs as vaccination drive continues


Turkey on Monday eased some public gathering restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

Addressing reporters following a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a curfew will be imposed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays in June.

A full lockdown will be imposed on Sundays until further notice.

Restaurants and cafes will serve in-person between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. while delivery will continue until midnight. Tea houses, astroturfs, sports halls, and amusement parks will also begin to operate as of Tuesday between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., except for Sundays.

Meanwhile, indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies will be allowed in line with virus rules.

About gradual normalization following a nearly three-week lockdown, Erdogan said the “relative decrease” in the number of cases and deaths has continued “significantly,” which indicates “the measures have achieved their purpose.”

Turkey started a gradual normalization process on May 17 after the 17-day lockdown that significantly brought infections in the country down.

Until June 1, the country enforced weeknight curfews from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., while weekends were under full lockdown.

On flexible working hours in public institutions, Erdogan said it will continue until a new regulation is issued.

The restrictions could be reset according to the virus-related case and death tolls and the vaccination process, he added.

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June to be month of vaccine mobilization

Erdogan underlined that his government is in “intensive preparation” to bring the “highest possible amount of different vaccines contracted” such as BioNTech, Sinovac, and Sputnik V to Turkey in June and to give them quickly.

“We will push the means to the fullest in order to turn June into a month of vaccine mobilization,” he said.

On national virus vaccine studies, Erdogan said: “Hopefully, we will have our own vaccine before the end of this year.”

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In-person learning resuming in primary schools

Turkey will gradually restart in-person learning for primary school students as of June 1 in line with its efforts to return to normalcy, the county’s national education minister said on Monday.

“We will resume face-to-face classes two days a week for our primary school students as of tomorrow [June 1], and for our secondary and high school students as of June 7,” Ziya Selcuk said in a press release.

He said that in-person learning will resume in villages and sparsely populated settlements for five days a week. “The 2020-2021 academic year will end on July 2,” he added.

Meanwhile, the universities will begin the new academic year on Sept. 13, Erdogan said.

Turkey has so far registered 47,527 deaths from COVID-19, while over 5.1 million people have recovered from the disease. There have been over 5.24 million confirmed cases in the country.

Turkey has administered over 29.06 million coronavirus jabs since launching a mass vaccination campaign in mid-January, according to official figures.

More than 16.58 million people have received their first doses, and over 12.47 million people have been fully vaccinated.