Turks over 65 venture out for 4 hours as virus rules ease

  • An elderly woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, holds flowers she have received on the Mother's Day in a public garden during a two-day curfew declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior people over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday.

    An elderly woman wearing a face mask to protect against coronavirus, holds flowers she have received on the Mother's Day in a public garden during a two-day curfew declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior people over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday. Associated Press

  • A WOman wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, walks during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown.

    A WOman wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, walks during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown. Associated Press

  • An elderly man wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, walks during a two-day curfew declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020.  Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown.

    An elderly man wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, walks during a two-day curfew declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown. Associated Press

  • Elderly people wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, sit in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown.

    Elderly people wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, sit in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown. Associated Press

  • A man wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, basks in the sun in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown.

    A man wearing a face mask for protection against the coronavirus, basks in the sun in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown. Associated Press

  • Police officers wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, stand in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown.

    Police officers wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus, stand in a public garden during a two-day curfew dispensation declared by the government in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, May 10, 2020. Only senior Turks over 65 have been allowed to go out for four hours on Sunday after almost a two-month lockdown. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/10/2020 2:30 PM

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey's senior citizens got their first chance to venture outside in seven weeks Sunday under relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

People aged 65 and over - the age group most at risk from the virus - were subjected to a stay-at-home curfew on March 21.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As part of a rolling program of reduced controls, they are now allowed out for four hours. People under 20, who are also subject to a curfew, will be allowed outside for a similar period later this week.

'œIt's very nice to be out of the house after such a long time,' said Ethem Topaloglu, 68, who wore a medical mask as he strolled in a park in Ankara, the capital. 'œAlthough I've been able to sit on the balcony, it's not the same as walking around outside.

'œMy neighbors have been bringing my food and other things in these last weeks," he said. "It's important to stay at home and be safe but it's very difficult as well.'

The relaxed curfew for over 65s came during the fifth weekend of lockdowns in Turkey's largest cities. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted his thanks to the elderly for their 'œgreat support' in fighting the outbreak by staying at home and reminded them to wear masks outside.

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Turkey has recorded 137,115 infections, including 3,739 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.

As the number of new cases dropped, the government announced a 'œnormalization plan' while warning of tougher measures should the number of infections rebound.

Entry and exit restrictions were lifted for seven provinces where the outbreak has been brought under control. They remain in place for 24 other provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara.

Monday will see shopping malls, barber shops and beauty salons open up under new social distancing restrictions. Domestic and some international flights will resume at the end of May.

After recording its first coronavirus case on March 11, Turkey shut down entertainment venues, sports facilities and imposed travel bans. However, a widespread curfew has not been put in place to protect the country's economic output.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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