Turkey restricts youths, shuts borders to fight coronavirus
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the country has imposed a partial curfew on citizens under the age of 20 as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavirus.
Erdogan made the announcement in a news conference on Friday, saying that Ankara has also decided to close the borders of 31 cities, including Istanbul, for all vehicles, excluding transit passage and essential supplies.
“We have decided to bring partial curfew into effect for people under the age of 20 as of midnight Friday,” Erdogan said.
“The shutdown of city borders will be in effect for 15 days initially, however this period can be extended if necessary.”
Furthermore, mask usage will be obligatory in crowded public places, in public transport, grocery stores and workplaces, the president added.
Turkey has taken a raft of measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, from shutting schools and universities to banning mass prayers.
The government has also postponed matches in its main sports leagues indefinitely, as well suspending flights to many countries. But people are still going to work, as Erdogan seeks to sustain economic production and exports.
Turkish authorities have already ordered everyone aged 65 and over as well as those with chronic illnesses to stay at home, while most public spaces have been temporarily closed.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country’s death toll from the outbreak rose to 425 on Friday, while the number of confirmed cases from the disease rose to over 20,000.
The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, initially emerged in China late last year and is now spreading across the globe. Worldwide, there are more than 1,118,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 59,000 deaths.
As the rate of transmission of the new coronavirus shows no signs of slowing, many countries have adopted severe measures to contain the outbreak, including imposing lockdowns and closing businesses and borders, as well as limiting public gatherings.
Separately on Friday, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said more than two million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs due to measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak
“They (the government) had to start a campaign to keep people home. This current campaign has only led to one thing: unemployment,” he said.
Kilicdaroglu also noted that around 400,000 businesses had closed and many workers paid wages on a daily basis had also been laid off since the current coronavirus curbs began.
“The number of those who worked there and are now unemployed exceeds 2 million. They will get unemployment wages from the unemployment fund for a short time, but there are no guarantees after that,” he said.
Ankara has also rolled out a 100-billion lira ($15 billion) economic support package and launched a donation campaign to gather funds for the needy, which it said had so far raised 847 million lira.
“We urged the government to take precautions for dayworkers. No measures were taken,” Kilicdaroglu said, adding that the government had to “make sacrifices” rather starting donation campaigns.