ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Lines formed outside of shopping malls Monday in Turkey as they opened for the first time in seven weeks, albeit with strict hygiene requirements.
Barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons also were back in business as the Turkish government gradually eases the restrictions on public activity it enacted to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The government has laid out strict operating guidelines for reopened businesses. Shopping malls must check entering customers for fevers and ensure everyone wears face masks. The number of customers allowed in at once is capped under a formula of one person per every 10 square meters (108 square feet) of floor space.
Providers of personal services such as hairdressers and barbers are required to work only by appointment, to wear both surgical masks and transparent plastic face screens, and to use disposable towels and other single-use supplies.
Private broadcaster HaberTurk TV showed municipal officials in Istanbul inspecting hair salons to make sure the shops were following the new regulations.
“Today is the barbers’ and hairdressers’ day,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Sezai Apaydin, the head of an association for beauty salons in Izmir, western Turkey, as saying. “They suffered hardship for 50 days.”
“If they take care, they should be able to continue their businesses in healthy manner,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoan announced a new four-day curfew that requires people to stay at home from 12:01 a.m. Saturday until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, a public holiday. except for short walks to pharmacies or stores that sell food.
The Turkish government has opted to impose weekend curfews instead of 24/7 lockdowns to curtail coronavirus infections, fearing the effect of full-time restrictions on the country’s already troubled economy.
In a televised address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said the government decided to lift entry and exit bans in nine more cities. Travel bans remain in place in 15 cities, including Istanbul – considered Turkey’s coronavirus outbreak epicenter — and in the capital, Ankara.
Erdogan’s government announced a “normalization plan” as the number of new virus cases declined last week but warned of tougher measures, if infections go up again. On Sunday, people age 65 and other were allowed to leave their homes for a few hours for the first time in seven weeks.
“When necessary, we will expand (the normalization steps), and when necessary we will restrict them,” Erdogan said Monday.
As of Monday, Turkey had recorded 139,771 confirmed cases of the virus and 3,841 deaths attributed to COVID-19.