Authorities in Turkey to impose three-day curfew in 31 provinces, including Ankara and Istanbul, May 1-3 to combat coronavirus disease.
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions
Authorities in Turkey will impose a three-day curfew in 31 provinces May 1 – May 3 in order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Affected provinces include Ankara, Adana, Antalya, Aydin, Balikesir, Bursa, Denizli, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kahramanmaras, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Manisa, Mardin, Mersin, Mugla, Ordu, Sakarya, Samsun, Sanliurfa, Tekirdag, Trabzon, Van, and Zonguldak. Grocery stores will, however, be open 0900-1400 May 1. The move represents an extension of restrictions imposed over the several previous weekends to cover the entirety of the May 1 International Labor Day holiday period in order to discourage excursions over the long weekend. Weekend curfews will likely be imposed on subsequent weekends, depending on disease activity in the country.
Turkey’s Interior Ministry has extended a ban on entry to and exit from the 31 affected provinces to May 4. The ban applies to all traffic via land, air, and sea, with the exception of freight and emergency vehicles. Residents may also travel outside their city or district to attend funerals or receive medical care; however, they must still remain within their province. Residents can apply to the Travel Permission Council to receive exceptional authorization for travel.
Additionally, officials have indefinitely suspended intercity public transport and restricted domestic flights since March 28. Turkish Airlines (TK) is operating reduced domestic flights from Ankara Esenboga Airport (ESB) and Istanbul Airport (IST) to select major cities. Pegasus Airlines (PC) has suspended all domestic flight services through at least April 30.
Authorities have urged citizens to stay at home. The stay-at-home order is mandatory for persons over the age of 65 and those below the age of 20. Persons in the specified age groups are only allowed to leave their homes to travel to and from their places of employment or to obtain food or other essential goods. Face masks are also mandatory in crowded areas. Officials have banned picnics, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities, and closed public squares, beaches, and parks. Other restrictions include:
- All international flights suspended indefinitely, with the exception of cargo flights
- All resignations of public and private health personnel suspended through at least June 27
- Sale of nonessential items prohibited
- No more than 50 people allowed inside an enclosed marketplace at a time
- Residents returning to the country tested for COVID-19 on arrival, potentially resulting in quarantine or other mobility restrictions
- Turkey’s borders with Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, and Iraq closed indefinitely; freight trucks still permitted to cross, subject to health screening
- All education facilities, restaurants, bars, and cafes closed and all sporting events and mass religious events suspended indefinitely
Authorities could introduce or amend restrictions depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days.
Background and Analysis
Turkey’s travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure – especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.