Turkey, mask controls due to coronavirus

Mass inspections in Turkey against those who do not wear a mask

250,000 policemen and inspectors ensured compliance with the regulations and imposed fines on those who did not wear a mask.

Turkey on Thursday carried out massive inspections in the country’s 81 provinces with the participation of thousands of policemen, gendarmes and inspectors to verify compliance with security regulations for the coronavirus pandemic -including the use of a mask, hand hygiene and social distance- and fine offenders, be they individual citizens or companies.

The inspections come after an increase in new infections in the last week, in which they have increased by 20% to around 1,200 a day, raising concern among health authorities about new outbreaks, especially as the main tourist destinations fill up with vacationers in August, in many cases leaving images of crowded pubs and beaches without respecting the measures against the virus.

During Thursday, inspectors and police officers encountered all kinds of situations -and excuses– with regard to compliance with the regulations against the COVID-19 pandemic; from those who claimed to have forgotten the mask at home, to those who wielded as an argument for not wearing it supposed diseases or even scientific arguments. Some people even denied the existence of the virus and the pandemic.

All kinds of excuses for not wearing a mask

The picaresque was also seen in those who had the mask stored in a pocket, and when they saw the agents they rushed to put it on with all kinds of excuses; some referred to the heat caused by the mask, while others clung to excuses such as that they could not be recognised with their faces covered. For all of them the apologies fell short, and in addition to a fine they received a gift: a new mask.

“I had to use the mask to pick up my dog’s excrement from the ground,” was the reason given to the inspectors by a woman who was walking without it through the Beşiktaş district in Istanbul, and who did not avoid the 900 liras fine (about 105 euros). Another young man who was walking with it hanging from his wrist argued that the street was empty. “My father is a doctor, and I follow the rules,” he told the inspectors; but whether he was the son of a doctor or not, they also fined him.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu joined a team of inspectors that visited a market in the Mamak district of Ankara. “Europe fears a second wave, and we do not want to also experience a second wave. We do not want to go back to how the pandemic was three months ago. We must maintain self-control: it is a duty of every citizen,” said the minister.

Speaking to journalists, Soylu ruled out that for now the government is going to impose new curfews, but insisted that the rules to be followed against the coronavirus “are not so complicated.” “Wear a mask, keep your distance, and hygiene,” the minister explained, adding that some 250,000 inspectors and officers had participated in mass inspections across Turkey on Thursday.