AKP bans alcohol sales to ‘curb pandemic’

There is currently a surge in COVID-19 cases in Turkey. The situation is almost out of control. The health minister admitted that China was not delivering the vaccines it had promised. However, banning alcohol has almost no effect in curbing pandemics. The AKP government is prioritizing imposing conservative values in the guise of curbing the pandemic.

It is no secret that global authoritarian leaders have been using the pandemic as an excuse to introduce extraneous bans and prohibitions. Turkish President Erdoğan has been no exception. When Boğaziçi University students rose up against the Erdoğan-appointed rector they were told by the authorities that such gatherings were banned. University students were banned from gathering, yet the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) did not hesitate to organize its massive party congresses, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic.
 
The main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) has been drawing attention to Turkey’s emptied Central Bank reserves by hanging banners asking, "Where are the 128 million dollars?" around its offices all over Turkey. The banners were targeted by the police and ordered to be collected; all due to the pandemic. Essentially, whenever the government is irritated or feels threatened by something, the pandemic has been used as an excuse to interfere in people’s lives.
 
On April 26, after the recent cabinet meeting, President Erdoğan stood in front of cameras and announced new measures to curb the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. After his announcement, an announcement was published by the Ministry of Interior. One day later, another ban, that was neither announced by the President nor in the official announcement was tweeted out by a journalist. The reporter to the Presidency tweeted that during the 17-day lockdown alcohol sales would be banned. It came as a semi-shock because the Turkish government had already been introducing an alcohol sale ban during weekend lockdowns. However, this time the ban was introduced during the holy month of Ramadan and for 17 consecutive days.
 
Pro-ban pundits given examples on social media of European countries that introduced alcohol bans to curb the pandemic. Most of these countries banned the sale of alcohol when bars and restaurants were open. The aim was to prevent people from violating social-distancing rules. South Africa banned the sale of alcohol at some point during the pandemic, however, South Africa has a specific alcohol overconsumption problem.
 
The World Health Organization (WHO), has recommended moderating alcohol consumption during the pandemic as alcohol overuse may affect individuals’ immune systems. However, recommendations and bans exist on two opposite sides of the spectrum.
 
The Freedom Research Center in Turkey has been overseeing the government's alcohol policies. Their latest research points out that Turkey, compared to other European countries, has a moderate alcohol consumption rate. The government has been taxing both the producers and consumers of alcohol. The taxation policy acts as a form of punishment in this AKP Turkey.*
 
There is currently a surge in COVID-19 cases in Turkey. The situation is almost out of control. The health minister admitted that China was not delivering the vaccines it had promised, and that numbers are concerning. However, banning alcohol has almost no effect in curbing pandemics. The government is prioritizing imposing conservative values in the guise of curbing the pandemic.