Istanbul, Galata bridge amidst coronavirus

Erdoğan cancels weekend curfew in Istanbul

The Turkish president has reversed the government’s decision to declare a curfew in 15 Turkish provinces in light of the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Friday the cancellation of the two-day curfew initially scheduled for this weekend in 15 of Turkey’s most populous provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir, claiming that a new curfew would have severe economic consequences at a time when restrictions on travel between provinces imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have already been removed.

“After the last curfew, we did not consider declaring another curfew for this weekend. However, the number of daily infections, which had dropped to around 700, has recently increased to around 1,000. Given these adverse events, we had to reconsider imposing another curfew,” Erdoğan said in a message posted this Friday on his official Twitter account.

The Interior Ministry itself had confirmed late Thursday that there would be a curfew this weekend in all 15 provinces, including Istanbul, to prevent an increase in coronavirus infections. However, the Turkish president explained this Friday that after the reactions against it by public opinion, the decision had been revised, and finally the curfew had been suspended.

“I did not want our citizens, who have just started to reorganize their daily lives after two and a half months, to suffer,” said Erdoğan, who added he had taken into account the consequences that a new quarantine would have for many families who are already receiving state aid to survive.

End of restrictions for seniors in July

However, the Turkish president insisted on the need to wear a mask in public places and to comply with the rules of hygiene and social distancing. The first curfew was imposed in mid-April in 31 provinces, and since then it had happened every weekend, although recently it had been limited to half of the provinces due to the decrease in infections.

On Monday, June 1, the Turkish government already lifted most of the restrictions allowing the reopening of restaurants, cafes, parks and gyms, while airlines have gradually begun to resume their domestic flights. Previously, shopping malls, hairdressers and small stores had already opened in late May, although schools will remain closed until September.

The Turkish authorities are now also studying the possibility of lifting restrictions on the movements of people over 65 in July. However, although the curfew has been cancelled for this weekend in Istanbul, the Health Minister Fahrettin Koca remembered that “we have not yet returned to a normal life” and that “we are still sailing in troubled waters” while the coronavirus do not completely disappear.