Low, medium-risk provinces to be allowed to ease curbs first

Provinces in Turkey classified under low and medium risk groups will be the first ones to be allowed to start easing COVID-19-related restrictions as the country is preparing to return to normal life in March.

The country's 81 provinces will be categorized as low, medium, high and very high risk based on infection rates and the vaccination process as well as other criteria.

Provinces with fewer than 10 virus cases per 100,000 people will be considered low-risk areas whereas provinces with between 11 to 35 infections per 100,000 people will fall under the medium-risk category.

"Low-risk provinces will start the reopening phase, but their residents will have to continue to adhere to the basic hygiene rules," Prof. Dr. Sema Kultufan Turan from the Health Ministry's Science Board told daily Hürriyet.

However, she said, what happens in the medium-risk provinces will be a "controlled reopening."

"For instance, first small businesses will be allowed to resume operations there," Turan explained.

According to the experts, for the time being returning to normal life seems unlikely in the high and very high-risk provinces.

If a province has between 36 to 100 reported virus cases per 100,000 people, it will be categorized as high risk while a province with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people will be tagged as a very high-risk province.

The capital Ankara presently has a higher chance of starting to ease restrictions, but Istanbul and İzmir, the country's third-largest city by population, are not yet at this point, according to Turan.

Ankara is just at the border separating low-risk provinces from medium-risk provinces and it is close to taking steps regarding easing curfews...

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