Three countries with political similarities that failed in the war against the pandemic are Turkey, India, and Brazil. In all three, populist leaders govern them and the number of COVID-19 cases is out of control. In Turkey, similar to India, there has been a sharp rise in cases after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) organized congresses and large gatherings.
Lacking the necessary vaccination rates, Turkey decided to try and get the pandemic under control again.
Political scientist Burak Kadercan, jokingly tweeted, "Turkey: The Rise of Tourism State," referring to the latest so-called complete lockdown announced by President Erdoğan. Turkey will be under full COVID-19 lockdown until May 17. However, a full lockdown does not really mean a full lockdown in Turkey.
In some senses, it is very strict; in some senses, it is very flexible. For example, going out on a long walk or a jog is forbidden. Swimming in the sea, even though there is no one else around, is prohibited. However, people are allowed to go to work in most sectors. Industrial production has not ceased. Workers are off to work every morning. Supermarkets are open. You can buy anything you like except alcohol.
In Istanbul, there are traffic jams and rush hours. The municipality had to increase the number of trains in the subway due to shoal. Life continues, but no one can spend time outside. Such is the Turkish-style lockdown.
A video from Datça, a port town in southwestern Turkey, shared widely on social media, explains a lot. It shows a man getting out of the sea, caught by the police. Police ask him why he was swimming, he explains that he wanted to take a dip because it was scorching hot. He says he saw other people swimming. Police explain that the others were Ukrainian, so they were allowed, though he was not. He was given a ticket by the police who awaited him on the shore.
Another thing about this Turkish-style lockdown is that tourists are exempt from any measures. Tourists can wander around, take a jog in the park, go to museums, swim in the seas. This is what Kadercan is referring to by ‘tourism state.’
A friend gave me a call during the lockdown who was staying in an all-inclusive hotel in the Turkish tourism-heavy city of Antalya. He was by the beach, having a drink, and swimming in the sea whenever he liked. He will stay at the hotel during the entirety of lockdown. The gym in the hotel is open; all the facilities are operating as if there is no pandemic. Basically, if you can pay your way to be a tourist, you can also be exempt from the measures.
The government explained the need for a lockdown via tourism. Last tourism season was nearly dead, and the Turkish tourism sector cannot afford another lost year. Turkey must keep the number of covid cases down so that the long-expected tourism season can return in full force.
It has also made sure that early comers are not disturbed by the measures. Turkey stopped demanding PCR tests from 15 countries such as: Israel, England, Ukraine. Turkey needs dollars, and tourists will hopefully bring them.
As for Turks, the strict measures may continue, unless you can pay to get out of them.