President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Monday, May 18, that a four-day nationwide lockdown will be implemented to prevent gatherings during the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The lockdown will be in effect for four days from Saturday, May 23, primarily to prevent the public from leaving their homes. The president stated that mosques will only be allowed to reopen for midday and afternoon prayers from Friday, May 29. Additionally, authorities extended the existing travel restrictions imposed on 15 main cities, including Istanbul, for another 15 days from May 18.
A four-day partial curfew remains in place as of May 18 in major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara. The curfew began at midnight (local time) on Friday, May 15, and will end at midnight on Tuesday, May 19. Weekend lockdown measures have been regularly imposed in Turkey over recent weeks as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. In 31 cities, all nonessential movement is banned for the duration of the curfew, although food retailers are permitted to open between 10:00 and 16:00 (local time) on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, May 11, Erdoğan stated that inter-city travel bans would be lifted in nine more cities as steps towards easing COVID-19 restrictions continue. The affected cities are Adana, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Trabzon, Ordu, Denizli, Kahramanmaras, Sanliurfa, and Tekirdag. Restrictions remain in place for the three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Those over the age of 65 and under 20, who had been under stay-at-home orders for over a month, have been permitted set times in which they are now allowed to leave their homes. Young people will be able to go out between 11:00 and 17:00 on either Wednesday, May 20, or Friday, May 22, depending on their age group. Both groups will have to stay within walking distance of their homes and wear face masks when going outside.
From May 11, barbershops, shopping centers, and small shops have been allowed to reopen as long as they implement appropriate safety measures. Meanwhile, all schools, universities, restaurants, bars, cafes, and cinemas remain closed nationwide. Supermarket opening hours are limited with a maximum of one customer for every 10 square meters (108 sq ft) of shop space. Buses will not be allowed to exceed 50 percent capacity and officials have also suspended public events and activities.
All international flights remain suspended until further notice. According to local sources, Turkish Airlines has announced plans to resume domestic flights and some international flights from June. The airline is expected to resume flights to 22 cities (19 countries) in June and gradually add destinations through July and August. The 19 countries that flights will resume to are: Canada, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Belarus, Israel, Kuwait, Georgia, and Lebanon.
As of May 18, authorities have confirmed 150,593 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 4171 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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