Interior Ministry urges against holding large events for Victory Day due to virus

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Turkey’s Interior Ministry has sent a circular to the governor’s offices of all 81 provinces in the country, laying out measures for the upcoming Victory Day on Aug. 30.

The ministry said in the circular that Victory Day celebrations for laying wreaths will be held with participants wearing protective face masks and heeding social distance rules. The participants will include one representative each from the parliament’s political parties, public institutions, and veteran and martyr foundations, according to the circular.

The citizens can hang Turkish flags from their houses’ windows and balconies, but other celebratory events, besides the official ones mentioned in the circular, will not be allowed.

After the ministry’s circular, many took to social media to criticize the decision, interpreting as “not allowing” any celebratory events for the Victory Day. They asked why the opening of the Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship was allowed despite the participation of 350,000 people.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) group deputy chair Engin Özkoç said in a tweet that “no ban can prevent celebrations.”

But the Interior Ministry on Aug. 23 refuted claims about any prohibition on the celebrations in a written statement.

The ministry’s statement underlined that the circular issued on Aug. 29 included precautionary measures to be taken due to the novel coronavirus outbreak and did not imply any ban on the events.

“Within this context, since the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak started, we ask our governor’s offices to take some measures as well as restrictions to prevent crowds from not abiding by physical distancing rules, like any other religious and national holidays,” the statement said.

The statement also added that it is an “obligation” to complete all events in line with measures at a time when the country’s coronavirus caseloads have been surging.

Hurriyet Daily News

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