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Turkey to allow indoor dining as COVID figures drop

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Turkey will roll back coronavirus restrictions to allow indoor dining and end weekend lockdowns, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Erdoğan had ordered the end of dine-in service at restaurants and cafes in mid-April as the country suffered record levels of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

The president said that starting from June 1, cafes and restaurants will be able offer indoor dining between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., and takeaway service until midnight.

The nation of 84 million saw its daily virus infection numbers soar past 60,000 in April.

But daily case numbers have since fallen below 10,000 — with more than 6,500 recorded on Monday — after the country went into its first full lockdown between April 29 and May 17.

Prior to that, Erdoğan had opted to order weekend lockdowns instead of the longer confinement measures chosen by European countries.

Since mid-May, there have been weekend lockdowns which will come to an end this weekend, but citizens will still have to remain at home on Sundays, Erdoğan said after a cabinet meeting.

There has also been a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays, but this will now start an hour later at 10 p.m., the president added.

Gyms will also be able to reopen from Tuesday, while weddings will be allowed to take place in indoor and outdoor areas.

Erdoğan said there would be a “gradual return to normal,” adding the measures announced would be for June and officials would reassess the situation again for next month.

Universities will be able to start the new academic year on September 13, he also said.

Primary school pupils will return to classrooms two days a week from Tuesday, and middle and high school students will do the same from June 7, the education ministry said.

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