Here’s your no-nonsense guide on how COVID-19 changes lockdown and curfew rules in Turkey, including shopping, outdoor sports and travel.
Turkey is preparing for a strict nationwide lockdown in the middle of Ramadan, but many citizens and foreigners in the country are confused about the details of the 17-day curfew.
Here is a comprehensive explanation of all your questions about the upcoming shutdown.
81 provinces closed
The lockdown will be one of the strictest measures Ankara has imposed since the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country in March 2020.
All 81 provinces are closed, and with the exception of a select group of people working in major sectors or critical jobs and visiting tourists, everyone is required to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary.
As with previous closings, people will only be allowed to leave their homes on foot to buy basic necessities at the nearest stores.
This means that trips to markets or shops that are not within walking distance or that require a car or other vehicles will not be permitted.
Duration of closing
Closing begins at 5:00 PM on Thursday April 29 and ends at 5:00 AM on Monday May 17 – three weeks later. The shutdown will last for 17 days, without interruptions or exceptions.
Although this has not been officially confirmed yet, it is very likely that the government will extend the lockdown until Wednesday, May 19, as this is also a national holiday, Ataturk Day of Remembrance, and Youth and Sports Day.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Interior, some people, specifically those who are expected to play a major role in the continuity of basic services, will be exempt from this closure, as was the case with previous closures.
Another notable exception concerns tourists visiting Turkey. Foreign tourists are allowed out during the lockdown.
Museums and other cultural sites will remain open to tourists during the lockdown period.
Foreigners living in Turkey should be aware that those with a short or long-term residence permit or work visa are not considered tourists and therefore expatriates are not exempt from the closure rules.
Those who do not comply with the new rules will face a hefty fine if caught outside during the lockdown.
Police officers will impose a fine of 3,150 Turkish liras ($ 385) for anyone who is found to be in breach of lockdown rules.
Anyone arrested without a mask, which is currently mandatory at home and abroad, can face an additional fine of 900 TL (US $ 110).
Many non-essential businesses and services will be closed during the lockdown period, but important businesses and services will continue to operate.
Public and private hospitals will continue to operate at full capacity during the lockdown. Anyone who has had an appointment with a doctor, including a COVID-19 vaccine, or a medical emergency is exempt from lockdown. You will be required to show your appointment to a police officer if you are stopped at a checkpoint.
Groceries and supplies
Grocery stores, butchers, bakeries, vegetable grocery, pastry shops, and specialty stores for dried fruits and nuts (kuruyemişçi) will remain open from 10am to 5pm during a 17-day period.
The catch is that you are only allowed to shop at the nearest store, which excludes all stores that require a delivery.
Another exception is supermarkets. While smaller stores will be open daily, large supermarkets will be closed on Sundays.
Restaurants and restaurants
As expected, all restaurants, cafes and restaurants serving food and drinks, including takeaway, will be closed. However, during the blessed month of Ramadan, they are still allowed to give birth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After Ramadan, which ends on May 14, deliveries should stop after 1am.
Intercity travel is prohibited during the lockdown and exceptions will only be allowed with prior approval, which will be strict and limited.
As exceptions, the Ministry of Interior lists the following cases in which permission to travel between cities will be granted:
To receive medical treatment in another city, as proven by the doctor’s request.
Attend the funeral of a first-degree relative.
Those who arrived at their current location less than five days ago, but wish to return to their place of residence. Proof of arrival date must be presented.
Students who take a pre-scheduled exam at a designated testing facility by the Center for Measurement, Selection and Placement (ÖSYM) in Turkey.
Soldiers who have completed their national service and wish to return home after being demobilized.
Anyone invited to sign a contract with the private or public sector.
Released from prison.
Again, if you are not one of the people mentioned above or you are visiting the country as a tourist, you will not be able to travel between cities.
International flights will continue as usual, according to the Turkish national airline, Turkish Airlines.
Tourism in large numbers
The government has already announced that public transit vehicle capacity will be reduced by up to 50%. But now that the majority of the population is shackled, activities will be curtailed even further.
In Istanbul, the metro will be running daily until 9 p.m. until May 17.
Anyone who has a dog is allowed to walk their dog in the immediate vicinity of their home. (The rules don’t specifically state that it has to be a dog, so you can try your luck with a cat as well.)
Veterinarians continue to do their job during the lockdown and people are allowed to take their pets to the nearest veterinary clinic in case of an emergency.
If you lead an active lifestyle, then there is bad news for you. Unlike the United Kingdom, where the public is allowed to exercise outside for one hour per day, the Turkish government has made no exceptions to any sport or activity. The gyms have been closed since the start of Ramadan and will not reopen until May 17th.
Therefore, it is not permitted to run or walk in the park, nor to swim in the sea.
Places of worship
According to the latest announcement by Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Sahak Mashalian, all churches will be opened to members of the congregation who live in the area and wish to pray individually and light candles.
Meanwhile, Ali Erbash, head of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said that the mosques will also remain open during the 17-day period, so that worshipers can visit their nearest mosque to perform their daily prayers.