Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Turkish authorities impose two-day lockdown in 31 provinces, 2359 April 10-2359 April 12, to combat COVID-19. Restrictions in place.

This alert affects Turkey

This alert began 11 Apr 2020 00:35 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 have imposed a two-day lockdown in 31 provinces in the country, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, 2359 April 10-2359 April 12, to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Essential businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open in the affected period.

Officials have also issued a 15-day ban on vehicles leaving or entering 30 designated major metropolitan areas - including Adana, Ankara, Bursa, Istanbul, Izmir, and several other provincial capitals - as well as the entirety of Zonguldak Province, starting April 4; certain exceptions apply. Additionally, authorities expanded a stay-at-home order for people above the age of 65 to include those below 20 years of age, from April 4. Under the new edict, persons in the specified age group will only be 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 had previously suspended intercity public transport and restricted domestic flights from 2359 March 28 until further notice. All citizens must remain in the cities they reside in, and travel outside the city is only allowed with a doctor's note and in the event of the death of a close family member or if a person lacks accommodations. Citizens can also apply to the Travel Permission Council, a body that is linked to the local governor's office, to receive authorization for travel. Turkish Airlines (TK) has announced that domestic flights will only operate from Ankara Esenboga Airport (ESB) and Istanbul Airport (IST) to certain major cities from 2359 March 28. Pegasus Airlines (PC) has suspended all domestic airlines through at least April 30.

Authorities have urged citizens to stay at home. Picnics, fishing, and walking along the seashores and beaches have also been banned. Previous restrictions included:

  • On March 27, authorities announced an indefinite suspension of all international flights and a requirement to obtain special permits for travel between cities within the country. 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;
  • Since March 22, persons over the age of 65 and those with chronic illnesses are prohibited from leaving their place of residence. Residents returning to the country will be tested on arrival, which could result in quarantine or other mobility restrictions;
  • Turkey's borders with Azerbaijan, Iran, and Iraq have been closed indefinitely; freight trucks may still transit borders. All travelers are reportedly thermally screened on arrival at Turkey's air and seaports and at some land crossings; those displaying symptoms compatible with COVID-19 must undergo medical testing and may be subjected to 14 days of quarantine.


Authorities had previously also announced the indefinite closure of all education facilities, restaurants, bars, and cafes. All sporting events and mass religious events have been suspended.

There have been more than 47,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Turkey as of April 10. Authorities could introduce new restrictions depending on the evolution of the 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