Turkey Declares Two-Day Lockdown in Much of the Country

Turkey’s government declared a two-day lockdown in major cities after the country reported 98 new coronavirus fatalities Friday, bringing the death toll from the outbreak to 1,006.

Turks in 31 cities including Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, will not be allowed to go out through April 12, according to a note by the Interior Ministry.

Earlier Friday, authorities said the number of confirmed cases rose 11.2% from Thursday to 47,029. The country screened 30,864 people over the past 24 hours and 4,747 tested positive for the virus, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a Twitter post.

Bakeries, pharmacies, emergency call centres, designated gas stations, package and postal delivery companies and animal shelters, among other businesses, will remain operational.

Individuals who are “on duty at newspapers, radio stations and television networks” are exempt from this curfew under Article 3/h of the Interior Ministry’s circular.

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also made a statement on the curfew;

‘The lockdown, which will be implemented in 31 provinces starting tonight, is limited to 48 hours. Businesses such as bakeries and pharmacies, which cater to the population’s urgent and basic needs, will continue their operations during this period,’ the statement said. 

‘We urge all citizens, who live in said 31 provinces, to comply with this weekend’s lockdown without panicking, and refrain from reducing their social distance prior to the lockdown,’ it added. 

Earlier on Friday, before the lockdown was announced, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had urged people to resist the temptation to leave their homes during the weekend as the weather warms.

This weekend’s lockdown is the most stringent measure that has yet been adopted by Turkey. While authorities have gradually increased restrictions on people’s mobility since the first case was reported a month ago, they had avoided imposing the kind of strict measures seen in other parts of the world as they seek to contain the fallout on the economy.