Coronavirus: Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar prepares to reopen as Turkey lifts restrictions

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Workers in white coveralls and face masks swept Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar with disinfectant Saturday as Turkey prepared to lift many remaining coronavirus restrictions, including the suspension of domestic flights.

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Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said flights between Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Antalya and Trabzon would resume Monday and others gradually added after that.

The 15th century Grand Bazaar has been closed since March 23 and got its floors scrubbed before other parts of business and social life restart in Turkey on Monday.

Fatih Kurtulmus, chairman of the bazaar’s board of directors, said shoppers would have their temperatures checked for fevers upon entry and the number of people allowed in at one time would be restricted.

In preparation for the end of some restrictions and the introduction of new operating rules, officials were dispatched across the country to check the spacing of restaurant tables and sun loungers at beach resorts.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey had 983 new coronavirus cases between Friday and Saturday evening, taking the national total to 163,103. The country also reported 26 more virus-related deaths, for a total of 4,515 since the pandemic started.

Read more: Coronavirus: Turkey mosques reopen for mass prayers

Turkey imposed a range of measures after recording its first case on March 11, including weekend and holiday curfews, travel bans and closures of restaurants, bars and cafes.

A weekend lockdown was reimposed in 15 provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara. A stay-at-home order for people age 65 and older and minors also remains in place.

A limited number of mosques held communal prayers on Friday, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said announced the reopening of many businesses starting Monday and a return to work for most public sector workers.

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