“The number of [COVID-19] cases remained below 1,000 for three days in a row. Wearing a face mask is not required anymore, except in hospitals. But we can still have them with us to wear at indoor places,” Koca tweeted on May 29.
Authorities had previously said that they would wait until the number of daily infections declines below the 1,000-threshold to abandon the face mask rule.
Even though the mandate was scrapped, some commuters on public buses in Istanbul still preferred to wear their masks while traveling.
“In fact, many people did not really follow the mask rule on public transport. To be honest, I chose to wear it to avoid any conflict with those who had their masks on,” said Latif Mavzer, adding that lifting the mask mandate was the right decision.
However, some disagreed. “The pandemic is not yet over. People are all venturing out and the streets are still crowded.
People appear to think that COVID is now over. I disapprove of the decision to scrap the face mask rule on public transport,” Münire Belkuş said.
As the pandemic situation improved, Turkey already lifted the outdoor mask mandate in March and scrapped the indoor mask mandate partially on April 26, with the rule to be followed only in hospitals and while on public transportation.
The country saw a spike in the number of cases in February, with daily infections exceeding 110,000 for the first time during COVID-19. In early April, the number of daily infections fell below 10,000, and the decline has continued since then.
To date, the virus has infected nearly 15 million people in Turkey and killed some 98,000 patients.