ISTANBUL, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's largest city Istanbul's shores along the Bosphorus Strait has been recently transformed into a resort town, as it was filled with residents in swimsuits amid the further easing of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Taking advantage of sunny days, locals have flocked to the seaside in the Arnavutkoy and Bebek neighborhoods on the European part of the city to catch a few rays and swim in the cold waters of the strait.
Senior citizens were also along the shores on Thursday after being locked down at home for over two and a half months due to the pandemic.
Hakan Keles, a 67-year-old retired resident, said staying at home was a psychologically depressed period for him, and as soon as the lockdown was partially lifted on Wednesday he went out.
The Turkish government allowed citizens aged 65 and older to go outdoors every day between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. starting from Wednesday, as part of the normalization process of the government.
"My home is close to the seaside, and since yesterday I have been coming here to swim and sunbath," he told Xinhua. "We are also making some movements and swim to make our muscles work."
Another elderly, Mustafa Korucu, sitting on a ladder into the sea, said the long curfew imposed on elderlies made them physically very inactive.
"The sea and the sun are the two sole healers for us," Korucu noted. "I am planning to swim each day for at least 10 to 15 minutes."
Meanwhile, the young people who collect papers from trash with big hand carts also enjoyed the sea.
"We get tired of pushing the carts loaded with papers on the slopes of the neighborhoods under the heavy sun," one of them told Xinhua just before jumping into the sea by making some acrobatic moves.
Despite the normalization efforts, concerns among the health officials remain high over possible violations of the rules, which include wearing masks, social distancing, and hygiene.
Commenting on a recent photo that showed many people taking sunbath along the Bosphorus, Tevfik Ozlu, a member of the Scientific Committee, said the threat of the pandemic continues.
"The virus does not forgive imprudence, and it is transmitted at every opportunity, makes sick and continues to kill," Ozlu tweeted.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also said at a tweet on Thursday that the coronavirus gets its power from false optimism.
"The measures should not be abandoned with the delusion that the effect of the virus has decreased," he added.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced a new series of normalization steps from the coronavirus limitations.
The curfew for those under the age of 18 was lifted, and the closing time of businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, was extended from 10 p.m. to midnight, Erdogan said.
On Thursday, a total of 17 people died, increasing the death toll to 4,763 in the country, and 987 new cases were recorded, making the total infected cases 174,023, according to the latest data of the Health Ministry. Enditem