The Turkish government announced on Thursday, May 21, that additional restrictions will be implemented ahead of a four-day nationwide curfew during the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday which will commence on Saturday evening (local time) on May 23. Markets, shops, butchers, and grocery stores will only be allowed to remain open until 23:00 between May 21 - 22. From May 23, businesses will be permitted to open from 10:00 - 17:00, and individuals will be allowed to leave their homes to shop at the stores closest to them during this time. Most nonessential businesses will be closed from Sunday, May 24 until Tuesday, May 26. During the curfew, bakeries and confectioners will remain open. The additional restrictions are in conjunction with measures in place amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initially announced on Monday, May 18, that a four-day nationwide lockdown will be implemented to prevent gatherings during Eid al-Fitr amid COVID-19. 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, Ankara, and Izmir, for another 15 days from May 18.
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.
As of May 21, health authorities have confirmed 152,587 COVID-19 cases and 4222 associated deaths in the country. Further spread of the virus is expected in 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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