Turkey, masks on public transport during the pandemic

Coronavirus: Turkey ends mandatory face masks on public transport

The use of a mask is no longer necessary on buses, trains and planes in Turkey: now, it is only mandatory in hospitals.

Turkey has ended the mandatory use of face masks on public transport, including buses, trains and planes, after the number of coronavirus infections has fallen below 1,000 positive cases per day, although mask will continue to be used for now as it will be required in hospitals.

The news was announced on Sunday by the Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca, after he himself said days ago that the mask would no longer be mandatory if the daily positives fell below the barrier of 1,000 infections throughout the country. After more than two years of wearing the mask due to a pandemic that has left more than 97,000 dead in Turkey (according to official figures), Koca announced on Sunday through Twitter the end of the obligation to cover the nose and mouth with a mask.

“The number of cases has remained below 1,000 for 3 days in a row. Masks are no longer mandatory, except in hospitals,” the minister said. “However, after the experience we have had, it is advisable to wear the mask in crowded closed spaces,” he nevertheless advised in a message posted on Twitter.

Opinions divided on mask use

Despite the entry into force of the measure, on Monday many travellers could still be seen on buses and metro lines in Istanbul wearing the mask. There are many who prefer to continue using it as a precaution, while other public transport users think that the measure comes late: “Many people do not actually follow the mask rule on public transport. To be honest, I wear it so as not to have problems with those who use it. I agree to remove it,” a user commented to the DHA agency.

Others, however, are not of the same opinion, and consider that eliminating the use of masks is hasty: “The pandemic is not over yet. Everyone dares to go out, and the streets are packed. People tend to think that COVID is over. But I am against withdrawing the rule of the face mask in public transport”, declared another user of public transport in the city.

Turkey had already decreed a month ago – specifically on April 26 – the end of masks in indoor spaces, except for public transport and hospitals, due to the continuous decline in infections and the notable improvement in the situation in hospitals. Yesterday, Monday, the Turkish Ministry of Health reported that 908 coronavirus infections had been detected throughout the country, and only 4 deaths from COVID-19.