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Turkey announced new restrictions amid pandemic

Fast-rising infection rates across much of the country’s crowded cities forced the government’s hand to reintroduce restrictions, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday, as he warned more measures could be on the way.

Despite its best efforts to avoid resorting to draconian measures, Turkey announced sweeping restrictions on Tuesday to keep the surging coronavirus cases in check.

According to the new measures, first announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and later revised by the Interior Ministry, a partial curfew from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. will be imposed nationwide on weekends.

Schools will remain shut for the remainder of the first semester, with students switching to online education. Restaurants and cafes will be barred from hosting customers and will only be allowed to provide delivery and takeout orders.

Businesses such as grocery stores, shopping malls and hair salons had their operating hours limited to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Restaurants and cafes will be able to serve takeout orders during the daytime hours and will switch to delivery-only after 8 p.m.

During his announcement, Erdoğan said the previously introduced curfew for senior citizens who are 65 and older would be expanded to include youth aged 20 and below. However, the Interior Ministry on Wednesday revised the rules of the curfew for those age groups, allowing senior citizens to go out between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., while people aged 20 or younger will be allowed out from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Other measures include the closure of traditional Turkish tea houses until further notice, as well as shutting down cinemas until the end of the year. All sports events will continue to be held behind closed doors.

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