Domestic flights resume in Turkey

Turkey resumed domestic flights on Monday as it eases restrictions in place since March to contain the novel coronavirus. The first passenger plane took off from Istanbul for the capital, Ankara, tweeted Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, who was on board.

There were a total of 156 passengers on the Turkish Airlines plane, state news agency Anadolu reported. Only a limited number of flights are restarting for now, from Istanbul to the Aegean city of Izmir, the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya and the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

Passengers need a code from a government mobile tracking application, said Bilal Eksi, the national flag carrier's chief executive. Among other things, the app - called Hayat Eve Sigar (Life fits inside the home) - confirms the passenger is neither sick nor being monitored for the virus.

Hand baggage is banned, except for laptops, purses and baby strollers. Wearing masks is mandatory and there will be thermal cameras at airport entrances to check people's temperatures.

Turkish Airlines had previously said it would restart international flights on 10 June.

A raft of other measures were also eased, including lifting a travel ban on the 15 hardest hit cities, Ankara and Istanbul among them.

Cafes, restaurants, swimming pools, parks, gyms and museums have resumed service, while hookah bars and nightclubs remain closed.

Since confirming its first case on 11 March, Turkey has reported 4,540 deaths from Covid-19 and nearly 164,000 infections.

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