Send-off celebrations held for newly recruited soldiers have been banned in Istanbul and the capital Ankara as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The announcement was made by Istanbul and Ankara governor’s offices late on July 7, in line with a recommendation by the provinces’ advisory health councils.
The statements said crowded celebrations have been posing a risk in the fight against the virus and causing people to flout the social distancing rules.
The statements said only first degree family members, including siblings, will be allowed to send off newly recruited soldiers at the bus stations, train stations or airports. “Apart from them, no other relative or friend will be allowed in the send-offs,” said the statements.
Also, those who apply to the military recruiting centers will be made to sign a form indicating that they will not in any way partake in any send-off ceremonies as they are about to leave for their compulsory military service.
Turkish families usually mark the beginning of their sons’ military service with celebrations that come in all different forms across the country.
In recent years, send-off celebrations in big provinces, especially in Istanbul, have turned into occasions that interrupt traffic with a convoy of cars.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has recently said that society is not careful enough in complying with the coronavirus measures, giving the example of military service send-off celebrations.
“Who would want their friend to start their national service having been diagnosed positive [for COVID-19]?” Koca wrote on his Twitter account on June 30.