Turkey announces weekday, weekend lockdown to slow spread of COVID-19

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that citizens will not be allowed to leave home between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays, and over the whole weekend from 9 p.m. on Fridays to 5 a.m. on Mondays, as part of new measures against the novel coronavirus. He also said Turkey would begin COVID- 19 vaccinations in December and prioritize health workers.

People wearing protective masks stroll in Istanbul's Eminönü, amid the spread of coronavirus disease in Istanbul on Nov 7.

Duvar English 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that a nationwide curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m to 5 a.m. in the weekdays to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As for the weekends, the curfew will start at 9 p.m. on Fridays and last until 5 a.m. on Mondays, Erdoğan said. 

Some sectors, including supply chain and production, will be exempt from the measures which will begin on Dec. 1 evening, Erdoğan told the public following a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.

He said that some shops that provide home delivery service, such as grocery shops and butchers, will also be excluded from the weekend restrictions.

Citizens above 65 years of age and younger than 20 years of age will not be allowed to use public transportation, he said. 

"We are taking steps carefully not to turn the health crisis into a full-blown economic and social crisis," Erdoğan said.

He said transmission in homes had increased and asked people to stop hosting guests until the risk decreases.

COVID-19 vaccine to be applied starting in December

The COVID-19 vaccine will be applied starting in December, and healthcare workers will be prioritized in terms of access to it, the president said. 

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had last week announced that Ankara signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech. At least 10 million doses of the Chinese vaccine will be delivered in December, Koca said. 

Erdoğan said kindergartens and similar educational institutions will be suspended, a step already announced over the weekend for Istanbul and the capital Ankara.

Funeral prayers will be performed with a maximum of 30 people, including relatives of the deceased, and weddings will also not exceed this number.

Places such as Turkish baths, saunas, massage salons, swimming pools, and amusement parks will also halt activities.

The number of people who can enter crowded streets and squares will be limited by local authorities.

Erdoğan also announced that everyone will be required to present their individual electronic HES codes to show their infection status – available through a free smartphone app – when entering shopping centers.

House gatherings, including New Year’s Eve celebrations, will not be allowed, as part of the newly announced measures.

Erdoğan once again urges people to quit smoking 

Erdoğan once again urged citizens of the country, which has a long tradition of prevalent tobacco use, to forgo smoking. "Please quit smoking during this period, whether you are at home or not. Quit smoking hookah (nargile)," Erdoğan said. 

Erdoğan, known for his dislike of alcohol and cigarettes, has often urged citizens to quit both. He has been saying that tobacco companies are "getting rich by poisoning" people and has in several instances urged to replace smoking with a "cup of tea." 

Turkey reports record daily number of new COVID-19 cases

Meanwhile, Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for an eighth consecutive day on Nov. 309, with 188 fatalities in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed.

The number of new cases of coronavirus infections, including asymptomatic ones, over the past 24 hours also reached a record high of 31,219.

For four months, Turkey only reported symptomatic cases, but since last week it has reported all cases. Historical data for the total number of cases is still not available.

The total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic in March stood at 13,746.