Turkey bans New Year's Eve celebrations at hotels amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Turkish government has ordered a ban on New Year’s Eve parties at hotels as part of its efforts to contain the coronavirus epidemic. The ban will be effective starting at 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 and will run through 5 a.m. on Jan. 4.

Duvar English 

The Turkish government has banned celebrations on New Year's Eve at hotels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Interior Ministry has sent the relevant circular to the 81 governor's offices across the country.

The hotels and accommodation places will not be allowed to hold celebration programs from Dec. 31 evening until Dec. 4 morning due to a possible violation of COVID-19 rules such as social isolation and mask-wearing, said the ministry.

Earlier in December, the government announced a four-day lockdown starting on New Year's Eve to curb the spread of the virus. Ankara said that the curfew would begin the evening of Dec. 31 and go until the morning of Jan. 4.

Turkey implements weekend lockdowns as well as night-time curfews amid a spike in infections and deaths. The government has avoided a full lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic to keep the country's beleaguered economy running.

Turkey reports record daily COVID-19 death toll of 254

Meanwhile, Turkey's COVID-19-related deaths rose to a new daily record of 254 on Dec. 21 even as new infections dipped for a sixth straight day, Health Ministry data showed.

The country reported 19,103 daily COVID-19 infections, including 3,412 symptomatic patients.

The percentage of positive tests jumped above 4 percent for the first time in more than a month, according to the official data. Daily testing rebounded to nearly 200,000 on Dec. 21 after falling over the previous two days.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that number of active and critical cases is dropping. He also said the country's bed, intensive care and ventilator occupancy rates in hospitals continue to decline.

"We started to get results of following the rules together," he wrote on Twitter.