Turkey's wedding halls reopen with lace-trimmed masks and muted celebrations

  • World
  • Friday, 03 Jul 2020

Bride Pelsin Akkoyun and groom Nizamettin Bingol, wearing protective face masks, are pictured during their civil wedding ceremony, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Diyarbakir, Turkey, July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Bride-to-be Merve Kacar adjusted her gown, placed a crown on her head and added the finishing touch of a lace-trimmed white face mask as she prepared for her wedding in southeast Turkey after a three-month delay.

The country allowed wedding halls, along with theatres and internet cafes, to open again from Wednesday as it wound down some of its last major coronavirus curbs in a bid to return life to normal and revive the economy.

But some restrictions remained.

"There is no dancing without touching our families, and no gold ceremony," Kacar, said, referring to the custom where guests give coins to the couple.

"We are not happy about it but it's more appropriate this way," the 24-year-old told Reuters at her dress rehearsal in Diyarbakir, the southeast's main city.

At a separate wedding in the city on Wednesday, the groom Serdal Aman felt more sanguine. "We are feeling lucky in all this unluckiness. We were really lucky to get an appointment for the first day," he said.

At the start of June, Turkey opened restaurants and cafes, and lifted weekend stay-home orders and inter-city travel bans. A subsequent doubling of daily coronavirus cases prompted President Tayyip Erdogan to warn the country had lost some ground in its battle with coronavirus.

Turkey has recorded more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases and 5,150 deaths, with new daily cases running around 1,300.

As Turks poured out into streets, parks, malls and vacation spots last month, Ankara made face masks compulsory in major cities. More measures could come even as officials have said there is no plan to slow momentum in the economy, which emerged in June from a near standstill since mid-March.

Some 1,150 wedding halls in Istanbul were cleaned and prepared for the reopening, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

New rules mean guests' temperatures are taken and sanitisers are used upon arrival. Tables are separated and everyone - including the bride and groom - must wear masks.

Biricik Kiziltas, a bridal gown designer, said she had responded by making a new line of masks with lace and other decorative touches.

"Brides are already feeling sad, and they have no excitement, so we tried to make something to cheer them up," she said.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler in Istanbul; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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