Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Turkey extend entry and exit restrictions in 31 provinces, including Ankara, to May 4 to combat COVID-19.

This alert affects Turkey

This alert began 19 Apr 2020 10:06 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Turkey's Interior Ministry has extended a ban on entry to and exit from 31 provinces to May 4 in order to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The ban applies to the provinces of 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. 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, but must remain within the province, to attend funerals or receive medical care. Residents can apply to the Travel Permission Council to receive exceptional authorization for travel.

Authorities previously imposed a 48-hour nationwide curfew April 11-12 and April 18-19 to prevent weekend excursions. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the weekend restrictions would continue indefinitely, depending on disease activity in the country. Essential businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open during weekend curfew periods.

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 as of March 28. Pegasus Airlines (PC) has suspended all domestic flight services through at least April 30.

Authorities have urged citizens to stay at home. As of March 22, the stay-at-home order is mandatory for persons over the age of 65 and, as of April 4, 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. Previous restrictions included:

  • On March 27, authorities announced an indefinite suspension of all international flights. The restrictions do not apply to cargo flights or ground freight transport.
  • The Ministry of Health suspended all resignations of public and private health personnel for a period of three months from March 27.
  • Authorities banned the sale of nonessential items from March 27. Grocers must package fresh produce to avoid customer contact with presale items. No more than 50 people may enter an enclosed marketplace at a time.
  • Officials will test residents returning to the country for COVID-19 on arrival, which could result in quarantine or other mobility restrictions.
  • Officials closed Turkey's borders with Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, and Iraq indefinitely; freight trucks may still transit borders, subject to health screening.
  • Authorities have indefinitely closed all education facilities, restaurants, bars, and cafes, and suspended all sporting events and mass religious events.


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.

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.

Resources
Ministry of Health: www.saglik.gov.tr

Ministry of Interior (in Turkish): www.icisleri.gov.tr

Turkish Airlines: www.turkishairlines.com

Pegasus Airlines: www.flypgs.com

World Health Organization: www.who.int