Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said masks, social distancing and hygiene are all indispensable for the “new normal”.

Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu attends the ceremony held at Ankara railway station as train services resume on May 28, 2020 after having been suspended as part of coronavirus precautions.
Turkish Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu attends the ceremony held at Ankara railway station as train services resume on May 28, 2020 after having been suspended as part of coronavirus precautions. (AA)

Turkey began operating intercity trains on Thursday after a two-month gap as it gradually eases coronavirus curbs in a bid to restore normal life and reopen an economy facing the threat of recession.

To fight the virus, Turkey had imposed weekend stay-at-home orders, halted most travel between large cities, shut restaurants and schools and mostly sealed its borders.

But the government has begun rolling back some measures as the spread of the virus slows, saying it aims to normalise life until August. 

The virus has killed more than 4,300 people in Turkey, from nearly 160,000 infections.

At 0400 GMT, an intercity train left the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul for the first time since the March 28 halt in services.

Trains will make 16 trips daily, although individuals aged 20 or less and 65 or older cannot travel.

Trains would run at half capacity with no ticket price hikes, Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said, adding that passengers would be monitored for virus symptoms.

"Passengers showing Covid-19 symptoms during the trip will be taken to isolation compartments on the trains and handed over to health officials at the first appropriate station," he told reporters at Ankara's train station.

The resumption comes after a four-day stay-at-home nationwide order for the Eid al Fitr religious holiday was lifted at midnight on Tuesday.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said citizens had not fully abided by social distancing steps after the lifting of the order and urged them to follow precautions against a second wave of infections.

"We are in a period in which the risk continues, it has not lifted," Koca said in a statement late on Wednesday, adding that while the government was ready to tackle a possible second wave, such an outcome could be prevented.

Source: Reuters