Turkey’s tourism sector may see revival in June as government eases lockdown – live blog

Turkey’s beleaguered tourism sector may see a revival in June as the government begins to ease COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, a major Turkish travel booking company has said.

Kaan Karayal, head of the travel booking site tatilsepeti, said that holiday reservations collapsed in April but have started to rally in May.

“We are predicting a rapid recovery in domestic tourism from the second half of June,” news site Diken quoted him as saying at an online meeting to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on the industry.

However, hotels in Turkey are expecting a 30-35 percent contraction in bookings this year, Diken said. 

On Monday, shopping centres and hairdressers re-opened, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan laid out what he calls a normalisation plan that will see further temporary curfews imposed as the country’s businesses gradually resume work under tighter social distancing guidelines.

The Interior Ministry lifted the ban on travel in and out of Adana, Denizli, Diyarbakır, Kahramanmaraş, Mardin, Ordu, Şanlıurfa, Tekirdağ and Trabzon provinces on Tuesday morning.

Turkey confirmed 58 deaths and 1,639 new cases linked to the COVID-19 coronavirus in the previous 24 hours on Wednesday, as the country’s health minister said that over 100,00 patients diagnosed with the disease had recovered. 

(Times Turkish time - GMT+3)

19:30 - Turkey confirms 58 news deaths due to COVID-19

Turkey on Wednesday confirmed 58 deaths and 1,639 cases linked to the deadly novel coronavirus, as the country’s health minister highlighted the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care had fallen below 1,000.

Over 100,000 patients have recovered from the coronavirus, Fahrettin Koca said in his daily update on Twitter, adding that Turkey had administered some 1.5 million tests since March. 

The latest figures bring Turkey’s official death toll to 3,952. The new infections since Friday evening bring the country’s total to 143,114.

Turkey continues to rank ninth in the world for COVID-19 contagion.

Koca in speech called for a "controlled social life,’’ in which masks and social distancing measures are maintained.

"In our new life, there should be crowded shopping centres, stadiums and elevators that work at full capacity," Koca said.

18:50 - Turkey’s Super Lig return date set for June 12

Turkey’s premier league for football, Süper Lig, is tentatively scheduled to return on June 12, the Turkish Football Federation announced.

 Super Lig fixtures were suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.


18:20 - Ankara municipality launches Eid ul-Fitr aid campaign

The opposition municipality of Turkish capital Ankara has launched an aid campaign to help families in need ahead of the Eid ul-Fitr holiday, which begins on May 24.

The campaign allows for residents to pay the hydro bill for households in need, add money to their transportation cards and provide financial assistance to owners of shuttered businesses, Duvar news site reported.

AP, The opposition mayor of Istanbul Mansur Yavaş

18:00 - New regulations for beauty salons, intra-city coaches

Turkey's Social Services Ministry has published a booklet featuring a series of regulations for newly-opened workplaces and coach services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Accordingly, staff at beauty salons are to wear face masks and protective face shields at all times while all surfaces and equipment are to be disinfected daily, Diken news site said. 

On intra-city buses, single use masks will be distributed and areas of the bus that are accessed by passengers will be disinfected, it said.

17:20 - Turkey sees hike in COVID-19 cases in nine provinces

While pandemic measures have led to a decrease in Turkey’s COVID-19 cases, nine provinces have registered an increasing number of people infected with coronavirus, T24 news site reported.

The spike in cases has been recorded in Batman, Kars, Uşak, Düzce, Gaziantep, Van, Adıyaman, Rize and Zonguldak, it said.

The southeastern province of Batman leads the way in increased cases, registering only nine cases on April 3 and  450 this week.

15:07 - Turkish private universities slash academics’ salaries due to coronavirus

Two major Turkish private universities have slashed academics’ salaries due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, news site Sol International said.

An academic at Istanbul’s Yeditepe University said that the university administration had not increased their salaries as is customary in March this year, amounting to a cut in real terms due to inflation.

Ankara’s Başkent University has applied for the state’s short-time working allowance for some staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has reduced the salaries of academics who do not qualify for the allowance by 40 percent, Sol International said.

These cuts have come despite staff continuing to deliver online classes in many cases, the news site said.

14:05 - Turkish appliance maker Arçelik producing ventilators

The Turkish appliance giant Arçelik has started producing ventilators to help in the fight against COVID-19, CNBC has reported.

Company head Hakan Bulgurlu told CNBC that Arçelik is on track to manufacture 5,000 ventilators by the end of May. He said that Turkey may not need this many ventilators, and that many may be exported to developing countries.

13:15 - Turkey raises tax on cigarettes

Turkey has raised taxes on cigarettes by order of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the news site Diken reported.

The minimum fixed tax amount was increased by 17 percent to 0.4569 liras ($0.06).

This means that a pack containing 20 cigarettes will charge a minimum fixed tax of 9.14 liras ($1.31). This is expected to increase the price of a packet by at least 1.5 liras ($0.21).

12:30 - Turkey’s competition board probes mask price hikes

Turkey’s competition board has launched an investigation into price hikes by mask producers and sellers, Anadolu news agency said.

The board has so far found price hikes at an average of 600-700 percent, Anadolu said.

After pledging to provide the population with free face masks and banning their sale in April, the government last week re-authorised the sale of face masks with a price cap of 1 lira ($ 0.14).

22:05 - Turkey to ease pandemic precautions in legal system after Eid ul-Fitr - justice minister

Turkey’s justice minister says the country is preparing to ease pandemic measures in the legal system following the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, a three-day celebration that begins on May 24 in Turkey.

A roadmap has been prepared for courthouses, prisons and notary services, Independent Turkish quoted Abdülhamit Gül as saying.

Turkey in March suspended a large number of legal cases that saw defendants released pending trial.