Istanbul, Hagia Sophia during coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Turkey bans flights and travel between cities

Travel is now only possible between cities for important reasons and with the prior authorisation of the governors. All flights between Turkey and abroad are suspended.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced new and stricter measures in Turkey on Friday to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the country, including the suspension of all flights abroad and severe restrictions on travel between cities, after that same day the diagnosed cases increased to 5,698 and the deaths to date by COVID-19 rose to 92.

The new measures announced include the prohibition of travelling between cities, which can only be carried out in very necessary cases and with the prior authorisation of the province’s governor. It also establishes the obligation for both public and private companies to minimise staff and to make working hours more flexible.

Social distancing measures are also extended to public transport, where it will be mandatory to establish a separation between passengers. On the other hand, all international passenger flights with Turkey are suspended, which means that the country is practically closed abroad after the maritime and land borders with Europe had previously been closed.

In addition, the Turkish president announced the prohibition of access to picnic areas, forest areas and archaeological sites during the weekends, while weekly access will not be allowed for groups. Governors may also, at their discretion, extend the access ban to days per week as well.

Erdoğan calls on Turks to abide by quarantine to avoid more drastic measures

Other measures announced Friday by Erdoğan to curb the spread of the virus include the obligation to spend a 14-day quarantine on soldiers who join the ranks or who are demobilised. Finally, the 30 largest cities in Turkey will create special councils chaired by the governors who can enact additional measures against the coronavirus.

The Turkish president asked the 83 million Turkish citizens to abide by the rules and advice of the authorities, and to undergo a “voluntary quarantine” and leave the house only for what is essential, if they want to avoid more drastic measures in the country.

On Friday, the Interior Ministry confirmed that controls were already being carried out in many cities of the country, including those who travel by plane around the country or in private vehicles, while outdoor activities such as fishing, running, or walking along beaches, promenades and parks have been prohibited. In addition, at least 12 towns and villages across the country are under quarantine.

Intensive care units are at 63% of their capacity

According to the latest data announced on Friday night by the Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, there are already 92 deaths from the coronavirus in the country and 5,698 cases detected, of which 344 have had to be admitted to intensive care units, which are at 63% of their capacity. 42 COVID-19 patients have been discharged, and so far more than 47,000 tests have been performed across the country, according to Koca.

The minister pointed out that the government prefers not to give data on where the detected contagions are located to prevent people from moving to less infected areas, which would increase the spread of the virus. Koca finally warned that “in the next few days there will be changes, whether we want to or not. The virus is transmitted mainly in crowds of people,” and did not rule out new measures to stop the coronavirus.