While a mandate for wearing face masks outdoors has been scrapped, it is still necessary to wear those protective devices on certain occasions, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has stressed.
Last week, Koca announced that some anti-virus measures were relaxed as the number of daily COVID-19 cases was on the decline.
As part of those new rules, people are no longer required to wear face masks in open spaces, such as while on streets, and indoors provided that air circulation is adequate and social distancing is maintained.
However, people still need to wear protective face masks while on planes, in buses, theaters and cinemas, as well as health facilities and inside schools.
“Face masks? They are not necessary at all times, but must be worn if there are risks,” Koca tweeted.
Albeit the government lifted the mask rule, many people say they will continue to wear face masks because the pandemic is not yet over.
“We are not completely removing masks from our lives. We will still be carrying them to wear when necessary,” Koca said after he announced the new regulations.
Quarrels erupt on public transport buses as some people misinterpret the new face mask rule.
“I warn if I see someone sitting next to me without a face mask on the bus. Those who do not wear face masks refer to the new regulations to justify why they are acting like this. We inevitably engage in a quarrel,” said Coşkun Keleşoğlu, a passenger on an inner-city bus.
Mahmut Çelik, another passenger, thinks scrapping the mask rule was a wrong move. “Many people sit on the bus without a mask. Above all, people should protect themselves even if the mask rule is ditched.”
Tayfun Çağlar, a health care worker at an intensive care unit, says he has to think about others’ health. “I may transmit the virus; you never know. That’s is why I wear a face mask when I use public transport, but when I am outdoors, I don’t, as some people really need to take a deep breath,” he added.
The Health Ministry reported that the number of infections fell below 40,000 for a second day in a row. Some 38,000 and 32,000 cases were registered on March 4 and March 5, data from the ministry showed.
Turkey saw a spike in the number of daily cases, which climbed over 100,000 in early February, due to the Omicron strain of COVID-19.