Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Domestic flights in Turkey resume from June 1; authorities lift additional COVID-19-related restrictions.

This alert affects Turkey

This alert began 01 Jun 2020 18:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: From June 1
  • Impact: Easing of COVID-19 related restrictions; travel and business disruptions remain

Summary
Domestic flights in Turkey have resumed from June 1 after previously being suspended due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The airlines resuming operations include Turkish Airlines (TK), Pegasus (PC), and SunExpress (XQ). Initially, flights will operate from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Trabzon; flights to other cities are expected to gradually resume.

In addition, authorities have also lifted the nation's intercity travel ban as part of their recovery plan. Intercity train service resumed on certain routes serving Ankara, Istanbul, Eskisehir, and Konya as of May 28. Authorities have indicated that places of worship are allowed to gradually reopen from May 29. A number of different types of establishments and facilities are allowed to reopen, including cafes, restaurants, beaches, daycare centers and kindergartens, archaeological sites, museums, camps, and libraries. Moreover, civil servants who are on leave or working from home will return to their workplaces. Authorities have also lifted restrictions on individual sports, maritime tourism, and fishing.

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.

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. 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.
  • Residents over age 65 are permitted to leave their homes for four hours daily from May 11.


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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