On May 4, President Erdoğan announced the beginning of a normalization process by loosening up some of the measures the government had earlier introduced. While the weekend curfew will carry on for a few more weeks, the intercity travel ban has been lifted from 7 cities and shopping malls and hairdressers are scheduled to reopen on May 11. Authorities have decided that Turkey is ready to gradually move on to the normalizattion phase of the pandemic.
Yet it is safe to say that the public largely disagrees with this decision. According to Aksoy Research’s latest survey, only 20.8% of the population believes that reopening the shopping malls constitutes an economic necessity. This percentage is highest among AK Party voters, while 50% of all party voters disagree with this statement. In addition, the survey also demonstrates that even those who own shops in shopping malls do not want them reopened. This is mainly due to the fact that shop owners will need to pay rent once the malls are open though they believe the consumer demand will be insufficient to pay for it.
The latest survey we conducted at TürkiyeRaporu.com shows that they are quite right. More than 50% of the participants of our May survey stated that, even once the pandemic is over, they will go to the shopping mall less than they did prior to the pandemic. Statistics from China demonstrate similar consumer trends. It will take some time for consumer habits to get back to normal. In the meantime we can expect an increase in the number of legal cases between shop owners and shopping mall managements.
Another important topic these days is the Eid holiday. Prior to the announcements made on May 4, the government had stated its intent to accelerate the normalization process around the end of the Eid. The fact that this timing coincides with the Eid celebrations raised the question whether people will travel to see their relatives. As we know, the Eid holiday sees a significant increase in traffic and casualties due to traffic accidents. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Eid celebrations this year pose other risks. For those who are not familiar with the tradition, it is a time when young people visit their elder relatives. Given the current situation, this custom would be risky in that younger people could bring the virus to their elder relatives. Besides, the spread of the virus could accelerate nationwide if people travel between cities to visit their relatives.
Our latest survey at TürkiyeRaporu.com showed that only 17% of participants plan on visiting their relatives if the intercity travel ban is lifted. While 73% do not plan to travel, 9.7% stated that they haven’t decided yet.
Again, these numbers reveal that the Turkish population is uneasy about the normalization process. It appears that a hasty normalisation process effectively forces the public to choose between their health and their income, such is the trade-off.