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05 May 2020 | 05:30 AM UTC

Turkey: Authorities ease COVID-19 travel restrictions May 4 /update 20

Turkey News Alert

Turkish authorities ease COVID-19 inter-city travel restrictions May 4; follow government directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 5/5/2020, 12:00 AM until 6/5/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Istanbul). COUNTRY/REGION Turkey

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Turkish authorities announced that as of Monday, May 4, certain travel restrictions that had been imposed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will be gradually relaxed throughout May, June, and July. Additionally, inter-city travel bans in seven provinces will be lifted as of May 4; nonetheless, restrictions for Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and 24 other provinces will remain in place. The seven provinces that will have these restrictions lifted include Mugla, Erzurum, Aydin, Hatay, Mersin, Malatya, and Antalya. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that from this weekend individuals over 65 or under 20 years-old will be allowed to go out once a week for four hours. From Monday, May 11, barber shops, shopping centers, and small shops will be allowed to reopen as long as they implement safety measures.

At least 45 people were arrested across Istanbul and Ankara on Friday, May 1, as they attempted to hold May Day rallies despite restrictions on gatherings implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The rallies were held in violation of a three-day curfew imposed by the government from midnight (local time) on Thursday, April 30. At least 15 people were arrested after they gathered outside the Confederation of Trade Unions (DSIK) in Istanbul's Besiktas district, while a further 12 were detained in Sisili district. An additional 11 people were arrested in Istanbul's Kadikoy district for holding a rally. In Ankara, seven people were detained for similar reasons. Authorities allowed some gatherings to proceed after organizers agreed to adhere to social distancing measures.

A three-day lockdown was in effect in 31 cities from May 1, to Sunday, May 3. During the lockdown, people were allowed to visit their nearest markets and grocery stores from 09:00 to 14:00 on May 1, which will be closed on May 2 and May 3. A partial curfew is in place for citizens under the age of 20, prohibiting them from leaving their homes. Wearing a mask in public places and crowded factories is mandatory for all individuals. The country has previously imposed such measures over the past three weekends, and similar weekend restrictions are expected to continue until after the Eid al-Fitr holiday in late May.

Meanwhile, all schools, universities, restaurants, bars, cafes, and cinemas remain closed nationwide. Supermarket opening hours are limited to between 09:00 to 21:00, with a maximum of one customer for every 10 square meters of shop space. Buses will not be allowed to exceed 50 percent capacity so that passengers can maintain appropriate social distancing. Officials have also suspended public events and activities. Turkish citizens aged 65 and above, as well as individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses, are restricted from leaving their homes or walking in public areas.

All international flights are suspended indefinitely. Additionally, passengers on public transportation will be required to sit separately from each other. Turkey's land borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Iran, and Iraq also remain closed.

As of Tuesday, May 5, authorities have confirmed 127,659 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 3461 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus. 

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. 

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.  
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.  
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.


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