Face masks outside now compulsory in major Turkish cities


FILE PHOTO: Mehmet Usta, a 74-year former marathon runner maintains social distance due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, while waiting in line to enter a park, as senior citizens are not allowed to go out of their houses except six hours on Sundays, in Istanbul, Turkey, June 7, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey on Thursday made it compulsory for people to wear face masks when outside in the country’s largest cities of Istanbul and Ankara, as well as the northwestern city of Bursa, in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Turkish officials said this week they might have to adopt a harder line on social interactions after a jump in coronavirus infections, but said there were no plans to reverse an easing of lockdown restrictions aimed at reviving the economy.

The governors’ offices in the three cities announced the order on face masks.

This month restaurants and cafes reopened, intercity flights and car travel resumed, and weekend stay-home orders were lifted. However, new COVID-19 cases subsequently doubled to around 1,500 a day, official data shows.

As Turks have poured into streets, malls and parks or taken vacations – often without face masks – authorities have urged caution and said new cases are emerging in more rural central and southeastern provinces.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Leslie Adler

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