As covid cases drop, Turkey's malls plan a slow reopening

Akbati Mall Istanbul

With covid-19 cases falling, Turkish businesses are cautiously planning a reopening.

On Saturday 2 May, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported that for the first time since March 30, the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey had fallen below 2000. 

The downward trajectory has prompted optimism in a number of sectors. Malls around Turkey closed in mid-March following orders from the government. On Friday, Akis Real Estate Investment, who owns two shopping malls in Istanbul, said the shopping centres would open on June 1.

There are Akbati malls on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait, and a spokesperson said the opening would go ahead unless the Health Ministry reported a turnaround in coronavirus numbers.

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Management are planning social distancing measures to minimise the risk of transmitting illness, including installing thermal cameras, and devices to clean the air of viruses and bacteria. Escalator rails will be cleaned with ultraviolet light, and numbers entering the mall restricted. 

The brand manager of a company that has four stores in the Akasya mall, said the dropping figures gave hope to people working in the retail sector.

“After the opening of the malls, we think that there will be a slow but gradual improvement in the economy, and we would see a positive reflection on the retail sector,” Yagmur Iscan said.

“We all need to see that everything in our lives, including our habits of going out, wandering around and doing some shopping, are returning to normal,” she said.

All her stores would be staffed by workers wearing masks and gloves, she added.

“All these measures will be strictly supervised by the management of the mall and retail companies."

Turkey's Shopping Centres and Investors Association chair Huseyin Altas said he hoped malls across the country would open gradually after May 11.

However, some have opposed this date, with the hashtag "do not open malls" appearing on social media by people worried about a reversal in the country's success in handling the pandemic.

Turkey's death toll sits at about 3400, with the number of confirmed cases about 125,000.


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