President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has decided to cancel a weekend lockdown announced late on June 4 after public backlash, but he warned of a rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases.
In a surprise announcement on June 4, the Interior Ministry said that a stay-at-home order would be in place in 15 cities to prevent the spread of the virus, continuing the country’s policy of weekend lockdowns.
A day earlier, however, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca ruled out further weekend lockdowns as the country began returning to “normal life” on June 1.
In a series of tweets, Erdoğan said on June 5 the government had to impose the weekend lockdown after daily new COVID-19 cases rose from around 700 to nearly 1,000.
“However, the reactions we received from our people pushed us to re-evaluate the decision” and the lockdown is now revoked, he said, urging people to follow social distancing and hygiene measures.
While the motive behind refuting, imposing and lifting bans remains unknown, this is not the first time that a discrepancy took place on the issue.
A similar incident took place when Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on April 10 announced a curfew just two hours before it began, prompting thousands to pour to the streets to purchase their needs despite the pandemic. Soylu announced on April 12 that he was stepping down, but it was rejected by Erdoğan.
Reports at the time said that a serious argument took place between Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca over the incident.
Commenting on the Interior Ministry’s June 4 decision, Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Committee, said that it was adopted because of the increasing number of cases.
“Provincial pandemic boards have been reporting increased numbers of new cases,” Prof. Alpay Azap said on news broadcaster Habertürk. “We haven’t seen the decrease in numbers we expected in Ankara, there’s a small increase.”
Meanwhile, the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Diyarbakır and some cities in the Black Sea region reported increased number of new diagnoses.
‘Istanbul under control’
The committee member said that the increased numbers of new cases may also be due to the fact that the spread of the pandemic is “under control” in Istanbul.
Prof. Azap noted that in the earlier days of the outbreak in Turkey, the numbers were skewed by the overwhelming number of cases in Istanbul.
“So when you looked at the numbers for Turkey, you really were looking at the numbers for Istanbul,” Azap said. “Some of our provinces may only now be starting out on the course that Istanbul completed a month ago.”