Turkey relaxes COVID-19 mask mandate

Turkey relaxed its mask mandate on Wednesday (3/3), allowing citizens to remove them in open spaces and locations indoor with adequate ventilation and where social distancing can be maintained.

“We will no longer need to wear masks in open spaces. Second, if ventilation is adequate and if the s rulessocial distancing can be enforced, wearing a mask is also no longer mandatory indoors,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told a press conference following a meeting of Turkey’s COVID-19 advisory board. He also said residents would be required to wear masks on airplanes, buses, theaters, cinemas, hospitals and classrooms.

Turkey also removed the use of the HES code for citizens to allow authorities to track people who came into contact with an infected person. He added that only those who showed symptoms would undergo a COVID test.

People pose with a frozen fountain in a park in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, February 3, 2022. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

People pose with a frozen fountain in a park in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, February 3, 2022. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)

In another measure, Turkey will also no longer close classes where two or more students have tested positive for the coronavirus, the minister said.

The easing of the mandate for masks and other restrictions comes amid a decline in officially recorded COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, although some doctors have warned that cases in Turkey are still high and that not enough people have been fully vaccinated.

About 85 percent of the adult population has received two doses of the vaccine and 27 million people in the country of more than 84 million people have received booster shots.booster). Recent figures show the country reported infections below 60,000 on Tuesday, with 203 deaths recorded. [uh/ab]