ANTALYA, Turkey 

Russian ex-pats in Antalya said they have felt safe living in Turkey during the coronavirus pandemic. 

More than 94,000 foreign residents from 90 countries, including 19,000 from Russia, live in the Turkish resort city.

Irina Balci, the head of the Russian Art and Culture Association, told Anadolu Agency that residents in Russia have stayed in their homes for a long time during the pandemic and they need a vacation.

Balci said more than half of Russians preferred Turkey for an overseas trip and highlighted Antalya as an important destination for Russians.

Regarding the recent suspension of flights between Russia and Turkey from April 15 to June 1, Balci said: “The flight restrictions made us and our friends in Russia deeply saddened.”

She praised Turkey’s health infrastructure and said some Russians also prefer Turkey for health tourism.

Turkey has taken serious measures against the virus since its outbreak, she said.

She underlined that there are no compromises, especially in the tourism sector and said hotels abide by all measures, including social distance, hygiene and temperature checks.

“Turkey is doing everything to make guests happy and taking the necessary measures. It also carries out very successful inspections,” she said.

Ekaterina Gunduz, head of the Russian Educational and Cultural Association in the Alanya district, said Turkey made significant decisions to stem the spread of the virus.

Gunduz hoped the number of cases will soon drop and tourism season will start.

Alisa Baltus said she came for vacation 20 years ago and decided to settle in Alanya.

“We have friends, who made vacation plans in Antalya, but now they have suspended their reservations. They are also upset,” she said.

Starting Wednesday, special measures are in effect in Turkey for the first two weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Weekday curfews now last from 7 p.m. — moved from 9 p.m. — to 5 a.m., during which intercity travel will be banned, except in emergencies. Weekend curfews will continue in high-risk cities.

Cafes and restaurants will only provide delivery and takeout services, while wedding halls, sports centers and game halls will remain closed until the end of Ramadan.

Turkey has confirmed more than 4 million cases, 35,031 fatalities and an excess of 3.53 million recoveries.

It has administered more than 19.81 million coronavirus vaccine shots since a mass immunization drive began on Jan. 14.

Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed nearly 3 million lives in 192 countries and regions.

Nearly 140 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries topping 79.53 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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