Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Turkish authorities to impose weekend lockdown nationwide 2359 April 17-2359 April 19 to combat COVID-19. Further weekend curfews likely.

This alert affects Turkey

This alert began 14 Apr 2020 09:59 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Authorities in Turkey will impose a two-day lockdown nationwide 2359 April 17-2359 April 19 to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the weekend lockdowns would continue indefinitely depending on disease activity in the country. Essential businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open during weekend lockdowns.

Officials previously issued a 15-day ban on vehicles entering or leaving 30 designated major metropolitan areas - including Ankara, Istanbul, Adana, Bursa, Izmir, and several other provincial capitals - as well as the entirety of Zonguldak Province, starting April 4. Residents may only travel outside their cities or districts for medical reasons or to attend the funeral of a close family member. Residents can also apply to the Travel Permission Council to receive exceptional authorization for travel. Intercity public transport has been indefinitely suspended and domestic flights restricted 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. Picnics, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities have also been banned. Public squares, beaches, and parks have been closed. 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;
  • Ministry of Health suspended all resignations of public and private health personnel for a period of three months from March 27;
  • The sale of nonessential items was banned from March 27. Fresh produce must be packaged to avoid customer contact with presale items. No more than 50 people may enter an enclosed marketplace at a time;
  • Residents returning to the country will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, which could result in quarantine or other mobility restrictions;
  • Turkey's borders with Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, and Iraq have been closed indefinitely; freight trucks may still transit borders, subject to health screening.
  • Authorities have indefinitely closed all education facilities, restaurants, bars, and cafes. All sporting events and mass religious events have been suspended.


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