Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Turkey suspend flights to Iran and Afghanistan due to COVID-19 activity as of July 19. Other restrictions in place.
- Alert Begins: 19 Jul 2020 11:48 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 15 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 related restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions
Authorities in Turkey have suspended all flights to Iran and Afghanistan as of July 19 until further notice as part of their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Turkish-Iranian land border remains open for trade only.
International flights in Turkey have resumed from June 18 after previously being suspended. All travelers arriving in Turkey will be subject to health screening. Domestic flights in Turkey resumed from June 1. A government-provided HES (Hayat Eve Sıgar) code may be necessary for domestic flights for all passengers, while only Turkish nationals require the code for international travel. Authorities in Turkey have lifted the COVID-19 related 14-day home quarantine for Turkish expatriates as of June 13.
Additionally, authorities have lifted the nation's intercity travel ban as part of its recovery plan. Intercity train service resumed on certain routes serving Ankara, Istanbul, Eskisehir, and Konya as of May 28. The use of intercity public transport will require a HES code. Places of worship were allowed to reopen from May 29. Several different establishments and facilities were also allowed to reopen, including cafes, restaurants, beaches, daycare centers and kindergartens, archaeological sites, museums, camps, and libraries. Moreover, civil servants who were on leave or working from home have returned to their workplaces. Authorities have also lifted restrictions on individual sports, maritime tourism, and fishing.
Authorities continue to urge residents to stay at home - unless they perform essential tasks - and comply with social distancing rules. Face masks are mandatory in crowded areas. Other restrictions include:
- All resignations of public and private health personnel are suspended through at least June 27.
- Residents returning to Turkey must be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, potentially resulting in quarantine or other mobility restrictions.
- Residents over age 65 are permitted to leave their homes between 1000-2000 daily.
The further easing or extension of restrictions will be contingent upon no major increase in disease activity over the coming weeks. All measures are subject to amendment at short notice.
Background and Analysis
As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.
The restrictive measures taken by Turkey are similar to actions taken by other governments 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.
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.