Turkey Scraps Mask Requirement as Pandemic Declines
Turkey has canceled its mask mandate for closed spaces since the coronavirus pandemic no longer poses a “mass threat,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Tuesday. “The obligation to use masks in closed spaces has been completely lifted,” Erdoğan told reporters after meeting with the country’s coronavirus science board. Turkey lifted the outdoor mask mandate in March. Masks will continue to be required in public transport and hospitals until the number of daily cases drops below 1,000. On Tuesday, Turkey recorded 2,511 new cases – a sharp decline from a peak of more than 111,000 new cases per day in early February. The estimated effective reproduction rate (R) stands at 0.57, meaning that the number of cases occurring in the population is expected to gradually decline. The science board recommends that those over 65 years old or with risky diseases continue to mask, the president said. More than 53 million people in Turkey – 62.36% of the eligible population – are fully vaccinated. In January, the government abolished the PCR test requirement for screening purposes and for close contacts of individuals testing positive for COVID-19. The test requirement for unvaccinated individuals joining public events was also canceled and the quarantine for COVID-19 patients was shortened to seven days.