ISTANBUL (AP) — Istanbul residents flocked to the city’s shores and parks on the first weekend with no coronavirus lockdown, prompting a reprimand from the country’s health minister who warned that the COVID-19 pandemic still poses a threat.
Images on social media and in the news media Sunday showed crowds packed along Istanbul’s Bosporus sunbathing and swimming. Videos also showed large groups of people picnicking and partying Saturday night without heeding social distancing or wearing masks.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted “let’s not normalize too much” and urged people to wear masks and keep their distance.
Restaurants, cafes, gyms, parks, beaches and museums began reopening Monday and domestic flights resumed. Turkey has reported 4,692 deaths from COVID-19 and 170,132 confirmed cases, according to the latest figures released Sunday.
Koca tweeted that contact tracing revealed 58 new infections were caused by a send-off gathering for a soldier, and a separate visit by well-wishers to someone who was sick led to 150 additional cases.