The Turkish Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday that foreign tourists will not be subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. It is the most recent action Turkey has taken to relax restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has been significantly reduced this spring.

It does away with the criteria for a negative PCR test 72 hours before entry and a negative fast antigen test 48 hours before entry. The ministry stated that pandemic laws and actions were being prepared based on “world events” regarding the disease’s progression, and it offered an update on the restrictions imposed on land, sea, and air arrivals on March 3, 2022. Previously, Turkish quarantine requirements were waived for foreign immigrants who had PCR testing, had recovered from the disease within the previous six months, or had received at least two doses of COVID-19 immunization if coming by plane. Land and sea travelers were not asked for test results or vaccination/recovery documentation.

Turkey removed one of the two remaining protective mask rules last week, enabling passengers to travel without masks on public transportation, but masks are still necessary for hospitals. The decision was made in response to a significant decrease in the number of routine incidents. There were 975 reported cases on Tuesday. During the early phases of the pandemic, the compulsory mask rule entered into effect in 2020. After two years, the rule was relaxed in March before being phased away in April, except for hospitals and public transit. 

It demonstrated that the pandemic situation was improving as a result of broad vaccination, a huge number of recoveries, and the preponderance of the omicron strain, which was milder than earlier viral strains. Similar measures in other European countries pushed for limitations to be lifted, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the pandemic is no longer a worldwide concern as he announced the partial repeal of the mask requirement.

If limitations on overseas tourists are relaxed, the country’s tourism industry may be able to recoup losses from the previous two years. When the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in 2020, foreign arrivals in Turkey rose by 94.1 percent to 24.71 million, and income nearly tripled to more than $25 billion. Tourism officials estimate that this year’s numbers will match or exceed those of 2019 when 52 million visitors generated $34 billion in sales. According to the most recent figures, the number of foreign immigrants in Turkey has increased by more than 225 percent.

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