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Turkey: 3rd stage of gradual lockdown normalization announced

The Ministry of Interior has issued a circular regarding the third phase of the gradual normalization, which will begin at 05:00 on July 1, when the curfew and intercity travel restrictions will end.

In the statement made by the Ministry of Interior, it was stated in the circular that the “gradual normalization” process has been carried out in stages since 17 May, following the partial and full lockdown periods implemented between April 14 and May 17, when strict measures were taken.

In the circular, in which the developments in the course of the epidemic and the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the Coronavirus Scientific Committee were discussed in the Presidential Cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 21, it was evaluated that some measures should be implemented as of Thursday, July 1, within the scope of the third stage of the gradual normalization process, the following statements were made:

“The curfews currently applied (including weekdays and weekends) within the framework of the principles specified in our circular numbered 8878 dated June 1, 2021 will continue until 05:00 on Thursday, July 1st. As of 05:00 on Thursday, July 1, the curfew, regardless of weekdays and weekends, and the intercity travel restrictions applied accordingly, will end and curfew and intercity travel restrictions will not be applied from the specified date. All workplaces, which are currently suspended, will be able to operate again as of Thursday, July 1, provided that in all business lines and fields of activity, in addition to the rules of cleaning, mask and distance, which are the basic principles of combating the epidemic, all measures and principles determined for their own business line/field of activity in the ‘Ministry of Health Epidemic Management and Working Guide’ are followed.

Movie theaters, whose activities were suspended in line with the demand of the industry, will operate as of Thursday, July 1st. As of Thursday, July 1, restrictions on the number of people who can be at the same table at the same time in the indoor or outdoor areas of eating and drinking places will not be applied, provided that the distance rules between tables and/or chairs specified in the Epidemic Management and Working Guide are observed. The current restrictions on playing card games and rummikub in workplaces such as coffeehouses and coffee shops will be terminated as of Thursday, July 1, and games will be allowed to be played.”

“The activities of workplaces with hookah lounge/cafe will continue to be suspended until a new decision is taken”

In the circular pointing out that from the day the curfews will end, all workplaces can operate within the framework of the opening and closing hours determined by the relevant administration according to the field of activity in their licenses, it was stated that “Music broadcasts (including those performed live) that currently end at 22:00 in accommodation facilities and at 21:00 in other places can be made until 24:00 from 1 July until a new decision is taken on this matter.”

In the circular, it was stated that the additional restrictions imposed by the relevant circulars on places such as parks, gardens, camping areas, picnic/recreation areas will be lifted as of Thursday, July 1, and the following was noted:

“Due to the very serious risk of the spread of the epidemic, the activities of workplaces with hookah lounges/cafes will continue to be suspended until a new decision is taken, and no hookah service will be provided in any workplace, including accommodation facilities. The practice of holding a minimum of 4 square meters in open areas and 6 square meters in closed areas per person, which is still valid for all activities with wide participation, including the general assembly, and all kinds of meetings, demonstrations, or marches of professional organizations, cooperatives and unions in the nature of NGOs, Unions, and Public Institutions will continue in the same way. Food/beverage can be served at wedding and wedding ceremonies. Music broadcast, including live music performance, will be possible until 24.00.

In line with the provision that ‘there should be no games, dances, halay or shows during the wedding where social distance cannot be maintained’ in the Epidemic Management and Working Guide, until a new decision is taken by the Ministry of Health, games, dances, halay or performances can only be performed in weddings and weddings in a way that does not violate the physical distance rule. There will be no participant limitation in wedding/wedding ceremonies (except for the condition that there is a minimum of 6 square meters per person, which is still applied for closed places). Village weddings will be allowed as of Thursday, July 1, and whether street weddings (in provinces, districts and towns) will be allowed as of the specified date will be decided by provincial/district sanitation committees. Events such as circumcision, engagement and henna will be allowed after July 1, 2021, as previously announced. Events such as concerts, festivals and youth camps will be allowed per person, provided that a minimum of 4 square meters of space is left in open areas and 6 square meters in closed areas, and the rules and principles specified in the Epidemic Management and Working Guide and the principles of cleaning, mask and distance are followed.”

“Normal working order will be restored in public institutions and organizations”

In the circular stating that as of Thursday, July 1, the passenger/seat capacity limitations in all urban and/or intercity public transportation vehicles will be ended provided that the rules and principles regarding public transportation and cleaning, mask and distance rules set forth in the Epidemic Management and Working Guide are followed. It was stated that the restrictions on the use of public transportation vehicles by citizens aged 65 and over and youth/children under the age of 18 will be lifted from the same day.

In the circular, which stated that the implementation of the restrictions and measures brought by the relevant circulars regarding accommodation facilities will be terminated, the following information was included:

“In addition to the physical distance rule, other procedures and principles in the Epidemic Management and Working Guide will be complied with, in addition to the physical distance rule, in the entertainment and activities to be held in the open or closed areas of the accommodation facilities. All kinds of measures will be taken by the operators in order to prevent concentration in the areas (restaurants, clubs, etc.) within the accommodation facilities and to implement the physical distance rules. The basic procedures and principles will be determined in the Presidential Circular, and the 10.00-16.00 overtime practice currently being applied in public institutions and organizations will be terminated and the normal working order will be returned as of Thursday, July 1st. For public institutions and organizations, the starting and ending times of daily work and the lunch break period will be determined by the governors according to the characteristics of the regions and the service.”

The following statements were used in the circular, which stated that changes will be implemented in the regulations introduced with the circular numbered 8832, dated May 31, 2021, regarding the measures to be applied at the border gates when entering Turkey:

“Mandatory quarantine application will be terminated for people who came to our country from Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka and those who have been in these countries in the last 14 days and the submission of a negative PCR test report made maximum 72 hours before the entry of the persons within this scope will be deemed sufficient. The period of compulsory quarantine for people who came to our country from Afghanistan and Pakistan and for people who are understood to have been in these countries in the last 14 days will be reduced to 10 days, and if the PCR test applied on the 7th day of the quarantine is negative, the mandatory quarantine application will be terminated. If the PCR test is positive, the Ministry of Health will act in accordance with the COVID-19 guide.

In this way, people who come to our country and are subject to mandatory quarantine can be quarantined in dormitories determined by the governorates, as well as in accommodation facilities serving as quarantine hotels. The procedures and principles regarding quarantine hotels, accommodation fees, transfers of these persons from the border gates, etc. will be determined and announced by the governorships. Our citizens, who cannot present a PCR test report with a negative result at the entrance to our border gates maximum 72 hours before, will be allowed to go to their residence after applying PCR or rapid antigen test at the border gates, and those with positive test results will be isolated in their residences.”

Intensified control will be carried out

In the circular, it is emphasized that the governorship and district governorships will focus on informing the relevant workplace officials and employees about the precautions, procedures and principles determined separately for each business line/activity area in the Ministry of Health Epidemic Management and Working Guide. It was noted that in the coming period, intensified inspections will be carried out under the coordination of the governors and district governors, in which the law enforcement officers participate with maximum capacity.

In the circular, it was stated that a guiding approach will be adopted that kindly invites business owners/employees and citizens to abide by the rules/behave responsibly in all audit activities to be carried out. In case of abusive attitudes and behaviors such as insistence on violations of the rules, repetition, and fundamental violation of the rules, the necessary administrative/judicial action facility will not be avoided.

Source: AA / Translated by Irem Yildiz

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