Turkey will implement a four-day curfew between May 16-19 in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ankara has imposed lockdowns in major provinces over the past four weekends, as well as on national holidays to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan said that senior citizens will be allowed to go outside between 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on May 17, whereas children under 14 years old and 15-20 year-olds will be allowed outside respectively on May 20 and 22 during the same hours.
Also announced Turkey has lifted travel restrictions for nine more provinces. These provinces are: Adana, Diyarbakır, Mardin, Trabzon, Ordu, Denizli, Kahramanmaraş, Şanlıurfa and Tekirdağ.
Turkish gov’t agencies warn against laxness toward COVID-19 measures as businesses, malls reopen
Turkey will start easing measures gradually in May, June and July and travel restrictions will be lifted for seven provinces. With the government’s latest move, restrictions remain in place for 15 provinces, including Istanbul, Ankara and the Aegean province of İzmir.
After recording one of the fastest growth rates for COVID-19 infections in the world, Turkey has said the outbreak has hit a plateau about six weeks after the first case was confirmed on March 11.
“We have entered a period in which we have to live our lives by following certain rules. Our citizens should not think of normalization steps as the life prior to March 10,”
The country’s Coronavirus Science Board issued an advisory, urging authorities to shut down AC units in indoor spaces and transport vehicles and rely on open windows or ventilation systems to circulate fresh air from outside.
In line with the advisory, the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir said all AC units in public busses would be shut down for the foreseeable future and all windows would be opened to circulate air. While Izmir is one of the provinces where the curfew will be imposed, the handful of “essential” workers commuting during the lockdown will find themselves soaking without the AC running as temperatures are expected to reach 34 degrees Celsius in the Aegean city.
With senior citizens across the country set to enjoy a day out on Sunday, experts also warned the elderly to be mindful of the rising temperatures.
Citizens aged 65 and over will be allowed to go outside between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., one of many moves Ankara is taking to bring normalcy to life with the coronavirus outbreak under control as the number of new cases continues to decline.
Seniors were first allowed to go outside on May 10, initially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. but after seeing how the older citizens obeyed the rules and the advice from authorities to wear a mask and practice social distancing, the time allowed was extended by two hours to 5 p.m.
The government initially imposed a curfew for the country’s senior citizens, ordering anyone aged 65 and above to stay home. The curfew was later extended to include youth aged 20 and below, as the number of coronavirus cases increased dramatically.
However, new infections across the country have been on the decline since April 21, prompting Ankara to ease some of the restrictions placed on daily life. According to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Thursday, the country saw 1,635 new cases and 55 new fatalities in the past 24 hours.
With the number of people who recovered from COVID-19 surpassing 100,000 and as those who survived their brush with the virus now making up more than 70% of all coronavirus cases in Turkey, Ankara decided to cut back on the measures, even though Turkey never resorted to the draconian measures Europe had to take, despite having dramatic spikes in new cases in late March.
Speaking to broadcaster NTV, a meteorology expert warned the seniors against the dangers of heatstroke and urged them to dress properly for their outing.
“Our senior citizens should be especially careful as some regions will see temperatures rising past 40 degrees Celsius throughout the weekend. Heatstroke due to the sudden increase in temperatures could lead to unfortunate events,” professor Orhan Şen said.
Another expert said the heatwave is expected to last until next week before returning back to seasonal averages.
While the seniors awaited the arrival of Sunday, the country’s younger population also got a taste for life outside on Friday for the first time after spending weeks cooped up inside. Just like allowing seniors to go out on limited durations on Sunday, Ankara allowed teens aged between 14 to 20 to go out on Friday, from 11.a.m. to 3 p.m.
Despite calls from the health minister or other authorities to spend their allowed time with walks or spending time in nature instead of meeting with friends, most of the teens were sighted in small gatherings, chatting their time away with their friends while browsing on their phones.
Others spent their time in parks doing various physical activities they could not do at home.
“I’m happy to be outside. Fresh air and trees are so relaxing. It was winter when I last went outside. I couldn’t get used to the spring and the heat once I got out,” a teenager said in Ankara’s Kuğulu Park.
A young girl said she was simply happy to be outside again.
“I’m excited. I feel like I’m going outside for the first time in my life,” 16-year-old Zeynep Oral said.