Turkey will ease cautiously out of a full lockdown next week and lift restrictions more significantly in June, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, as cases have come down sharply from the peak of a fierce second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turkish authorities imposed the lockdown two weeks ago after the number of daily COVID-19 cases soared above 60,000, one of the highest rates globally, and deaths reached nearly 400 a day.
The surge has threatened to hit Turkey's lucrative summer tourism season, and has already prompted the switch of the Champions League final from Istanbul to Portugal, while Formula One called off the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix on Friday.
Erdogan said that a "controlled normalization calendar" would start on Monday.
"Our intention is to continue to act relatively cautiously until the end of May," he said in a televised address. "As of June, we plan to significantly reduce the measures in a way that will make daily life even more comfortable."
The number of daily new cases has fallen to 11,000, sharply down from last month but still above the target of 5,000 Erdogan set at the start of the lockdown. Around 10.7 million people have been fully vaccinated, or 13% of the population, with another 4 million having received a first dose.
"As a result of the sacrifices we have made, we see a significant decrease in the number of new cases, severe patients and deaths," Erdogan said. "We hope to lower these numbers even further, without letting go of caution."