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Over 65s in Turkey go outside for first time since March

People over 65 wearing protective face masks sit and enjoy the sun on the Bosphorus in their first trip outdoors since a tough coronavirus lockdown was imposed nearly two months ago
People over 65 wearing protective face masks sit and enjoy the sun on the Bosphorus in their first trip outdoors since a tough coronavirus lockdown was imposed nearly two months ago Bulent Kilic AFP
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Istanbul (AFP)

Turkish people aged 65 and over on Sunday described their joy after the government allowed them to go outside for the first time in nearly two months in an easing of the coronavirus restrictions.

While 24 provinces including Ankara and Istanbul are subject to a weekend lockdown, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week senior citizens could leave their homes between 0800 GMT and 1200 GMT on Sunday.

They had not been permitted to go outside since March 21.

"Finally it is like we are on holiday as of 11 o'clock (0800 GMT) today. We are very happy," Istanbul resident Umit Avci, 81, said.

"It's the first time I've come outside since March and I'm so happy, I'm filled with joy," Ankara resident Ayse said.

Minutes before the official start, people in masks, and some in gloves, were walking on the streets in Ankara where the sun was shining and spring was in full bloom.

Small parks in the capital were later packed with senior citizens, while police in one park walked around and used loudspeakers urging people to follow social distancing rules.

Some senior citizens called on the government to allow them to go out on weekdays when there is no lockdown.

"What can we do now? Everywhere is closed, we cannot do anything. They should take this into consideration," Saim Ilker said in Istanbul.

The measure restricting senior citizens' movement was one of many taken by the Turkish government to stop the spread of the coronavirus including shutting schools.

Sunday's decision was the first to ease restrictions, with barbershops, hairdressers and shopping centres set to reopen on Monday as the daily death toll remains under 100.

Turkey has so far recorded 137,115 coronavirus infections and 3,739 deaths, according to official figures Saturday.

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