President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that most Turks will be at home under a nationwide “complete lockdown” starting Thursday to increase the number of coronavirus infections and deaths, lasting until May 17.
In the previous 24 hours on Monday, there were 37,312 new Covid-19 infections in Turkey and 353 deaths, much less than in mid-April, according to the health ministry, but still the fourth-highest number of cases in the world.
Announcing the new measures on Monday after the cabinet meeting, Erdogan said all intercity travel would require government approval, all schools would be closed and online curricula removed, and strict capabilities for public transport users would be limited.
Turkey has to stay indoors without the necessary shopping and emergency treatment. The exemption will be given to several groups including emergency service personnel and employees in the food and manufacturing sector.
The new restrictions will take effect on Thursday from 16:00 GMT (7 pm local time) and end on May 1, GMT.
“At a time when Europe is entering a phase of reopening, we need to quickly reduce the number of cases to less than 5,000 without leaving us behind. Otherwise, we will inevitably face heavy costs in everything from tourism to trade and education,” Erdogan said.
These measures seem to have been designed to avoid another spike during the traditional themed family gatherings and celebrations, which took place after the end of the holy month of Ramadan in mid-May.
The new sanctions come as Turkey fears enough to back its planned inoculation schedule after a quick start in mid-January.
It has provided two jobs to eight million people and is pushing China to speed up the delivery of Sinovac’s Corona vaccine by concluding a deal for a 100 million dose deal.
Turkey has also received the first distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and reached an agreement with Russia to start production of Sputnik V locally.