Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Turkey to impose four-day nationwide lockdown May 23-27 due to coronavirus activity. Other restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Turkey

This alert began 19 May 2020 18:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: May 23-27
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Summary
Turkish authorities will implement a four-day nationwide lockdown 0001 May 23 to 0001 May 27 as part of the nation's effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure coincides with Turkey's long holiday weekend during Eid al-Fitr religious holidays; authorities have imposed similar restrictions over previous long holiday weekends in order to discourage public excursions.

In addition authorities extended an intercity travel ban for Ankara, Balikeseir, Bursa, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun, Van, and Zonguldak until June 1; authorities previously lifted the ban for the rest of the country. Intercity travel will, however, be suspended nationwide during the lockdown May 23-27. Authorities also indicated that places of worship will be allowed to gradually reopen from May 29.

Authorities previously eased a number of other COVID-19-related restrictions, including:

  • Hair salons, shopping malls, and some stores have been allowed to reopen as of May 11.
  • Residents over age 65 are permitted to leave their homes for four hours daily from May 11.
  • From May 13, persons under the age of 14 may be outdoors within walking distance of their homes from 1100-1500.


Certain land, air, and sea travel restrictions remain in place; freight and emergency transport operations are exempt. Some international commercial passenger flights departing Turkey for major cities in Europe and the US are occurring on an ad hoc basis; however, service is very limited and sporadic. Departure schedules and flight availability may vary significantly from week to week. Additionally, individual airlines have suspended operations, with Turkish Airlines (TK) halting regularly scheduled flights until at least May 28, and Pegasus Airlines (PC) suspending their commercial flights indefinitely.

Authorities continue to urge residents to stay at home unless performing essential tasks and to comply with social distancing rules. Face masks are mandatory in crowded areas. Officials have banned picnics, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities, along with closing public squares, beaches, and parks. Other restrictions include:

  • All regularly scheduled international passenger flights are suspended indefinitely.
  • All resignations of public and private health personnel are suspended through at least June 27.
  • No more than 50 people are allowed inside an enclosed marketplace at a time.
  • Residents returning to Turkey must be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, potentially resulting in quarantine or other mobility restrictions.
  • Turkey's borders with Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, and Iraq are closed indefinitely; freight trucks are still permitted to cross, subject to health screening.
  • All education facilities, restaurants, bars, and cafes are closed, and all sporting events remain suspended.


The further easing or reimplementation of restrictions will be contingent upon no major increase in disease activity over the coming weeks. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

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.


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