Turkey is set to enter its first full lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic as it struggles to combat a steep rise in cases.
The country has previously been praised for its early adoption of measures against the virus earning praise from WHO, with the outdoor wearing of masks almost universally adopted in the country’s capital.
Turkey’s response hasn’t been without controversy, however, with the government accused of under-reporting the number of deaths and cases caused by the respiratory disease.
Now the country is faced with one of its toughest chapter’s yet as the country looks to turn the tide against the disease ahead of summer.
Why are cases surging in Turkey?
New restrictions were introduced to the country last November with restaurants, cafes and bars limited to takeout services, and curfews put in place on w weekends.
Case numbers dropped to 6,000 per day in February, but cases have increased tenfold since the loosening of measures in March with a new wave washing over the continent straddling country.
Measures were reintroduced in April and now the strictest restrictions since the pandemic are to be introduced on Thursday.
Critics of the government have said that the restrictions were eased too early, with the country’s vaccination programme yet to make a significant dent in the country’s population of 82 million. Just over 20 million have been vaccinated so far.
New variants of the illness are also behind the increase in cases, according to scientists.
Some businesses are exempt from the measures.
What are the new measures?
The new measures will last from 4pm on April 29 to 2am May 17.
The restrictions are not dissimilar to the UK’s lockdown with citizens required to stay at home unless for essential shopping or urgent medical treatment.
Schools are also to close, while strict capacity limits are to be placed on public transport.
Alcohol sales are also to be limited while travel between cities will require official approval.
What has President Erdogan said?
The country’s strongman leader President Tayyip Erdogan underlined that the measures were essential.
He said: "at a time when Europe is entering a phase of reopening, we need to rapidly cut our case numbers to below 5,000 not to be left behind. Otherwise we will inevitably face heavy costs in every area, from tourism to trade and education”.
What does this mean for travel?
On April 23 Turkey boosted the prospect of UK holidaymakers being able to visit this summer by lifting flight restrictions.
The introduction of the measures is partly seen as a approach to ensure the tourism reliant country isn’t deprived of holidaymakers this summer.
Authorities also confirmed they will not require international tourists to have received a coronavirus vaccine but they will need to show evidence of a recent negative PCR test.
The UK is set to unveil its traffic light system and at this stage it seems highly likely that Turkey will be placed on the amber or red list, which would require a quarantine period.