Turkey will impose a curfew between April 23-26 in 30 major provinces and the northern province of Zonguldak to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 20.
Zonguldak will be included in the curfew due to the high number of pulmonary disease cases stemming from the province’s coal mining industry.
Turkey imposed lockdowns in these 31 provinces over the past two weekends. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan said the lockdown would be longer this time due to the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day that falls on April 23, adding that weekend lockdowns could continue "for some time."
The details of the new curfew will be later announced by the Interior Ministry, Erdoğan said.Turkish Health Ministry 'plans for gradual normalization towards the end of May'
Erdoğan said Turkey aims to bring the outbreak to a level that would allow for a normalization of life after the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday at the end of May, adding that steps could be taken before that.
Turkey's first lockdown was imposed on April 11 and 12. This first weekend curfew was announced only two hours before its imposition on April 10, causing citizens to rush out in a bout of panic buying.
During the week, the stay-at-home order only applies to those under the age of 20 or over 65. All other citizens are in theory allowed to go out, although authorities urge to them to stay at home if possible.
Erdoğan criticizes CHP-run municipalities' efforts to help citizens in need amid pandemic
Erdoğan on April 20 also criticized the municipalities run by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) over their efforts to help citizens in need amid the coronavirus outbreak. Erdoğan accused them of not working in coordination with the central government.
"What are the CHP-run municipalities doing? Disregarding the Presidency, Health Ministry, Interior Ministry, other ministries as well as local governor's offices, they are attempting to collect donations by themselves, to distribute bread and to build a hospital. The purpose of such attempts of the CHP-run municipalities, which are disregarding epidemic rules insistently, is not to give service to the people, but to do a show off. There is no other explanation to the attitude of the Istanbul, Adana and Mersin municipalities during this weekend's curfew."
Erdoğan likened the CHP-run municipalities' pandemic aid campaigns to previous "attempts" of the Gülen network, referred to as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) by the authorities, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"Such attempts were also tried by organizations such as FETÖ and PKK in the past. It is clear that the purpose here is to discredit [the central government's] services of health, food and security, economical support as well as social aid," Erdoğan said.Provincial health authority seals off field hospital built by Turkey's main opposition
Erdoğan was referring to a makeshift hospital constructed by the CHP municipality in the southern province Adana. The hospital was sealed by the provincial health directorate on the grounds of it "not being sanitary." The health directorate said that a license application was not filed by the municipality before its construction.
In another move targeting the CHP-run municipalities, the Interior Ministry has recently launched a probe into Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş over their donation campaigns to help citizens in need.Interior ministry launches probe into Istanbul Mayor over collection of donations against coronavirus
The row between Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the mayors from the CHP began when the Interior Ministry announced on March 31 that the donation campaigns of the municipalities are against the regulations.
The municipalities’ donation accounts were blocked at the same time, prompting criticism against the government for preventing people from getting the help they need.
İmamoğlu has been since calling on the state-owned Vakıfbank to send the money collected as part of the aid campaign right back the municipality.
In another move against the CHP-run municipalities, the central government has banned the municipality of the southern province of Mersin from distributing free bread to citizens.
Erdoğan accuses Syrian gov't of violating Idlib ceasefire
Erdoğan on April 20 touched upon the Turkey-Russia brokered ceasefire reached in Syria's last opposition enclave of Idlib, saying the Syrian government was violating the deal. The Turkish president warned that Damascus would suffer "heavy losses" if it continued to violate the ceasefire.
Erdoğan said the Syrian government was using the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to ramp up violence in Idlib, and added that Turkey would not allow any "dark groups" in the region to violate the ceasefire either.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Syria's war, agreed on March 5 to halt hostilities in northwestern Syria after an escalation of clashes there displaced nearly a million people and brought the two sides close to confrontation.Turkey, Russia establish new ceasefire in Idlib