Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Turkey maintains COVID-19 restrictions as of Sept. 1; business and travel disruptions continue.

Alert Begins 01 Sep 2020 09:11 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Turkey are maintaining restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as of Sept. 1. Protective face coverings must be worn in all public spaces in many cities, including Ankara and Istanbul, and must be worn in enclosed public spaces nationwide. Turkish residents over the age of 65 are only permitted to leave their homes between 1000-2000 daily, and people under 18 years are only permitted to travel in the company of a parent or guardian; these measures do not apply to foreign nationals in Turkey. Turkish nationals and residents are required to obtain a government-provided Hayat Eve Sıgar (HES) code before international or intercity travel on public transport.

Authorities have lifted many of the harshest restrictions, including the nation's intercity travel ban. Intercity rail travel has resumed on certain routes serving Istanbul, Ankara, Eskisehir, and Konya. Turkey allowed the resumption of international travel from June 12; the country's air, land, and sea borders have reopened for most travelers. However, nonessential travel with Iran and Iraq remains suspended. All travelers are required to undergo a health screening on arrival. Individuals displaying symptoms must submit to a COVID-19 test and undergo a 14-day quarantine if positive; all testing and quarantine-related costs are to be covered by the traveler. Most businesses and facilities are permitted to reopen, provided certain hygiene measures are implemented.

The further easing or extension of restrictions will be contingent upon no major increase in disease activity over the coming weeks. All measures are subject to amendment at short notice, including possible impositions of citywide curfews.

Background and Analysis
As countries relax blanket restrictions, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

The restrictive measures taken by Turkey are similar to actions taken by other governments 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.

Advice
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.


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