Officials have started to distribute protective masks to people who commute on public transport and those that go to open marketplaces to shop, as Turkey introduced stricter measures in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has already infected nearly 25,000 people across the country, killing over 500.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on April 3 that wearing facemasks in crowded areas including stores was now mandatory and the gathering of crowds in open spaces, including streets, was not allowed anymore.
Following the announcement, municipality officials in a number of districts and provinces, including Istanbul, the capital Ankara, the western provinces of Bursa and Bolu, as well as Denizli, and the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri distributed facemasks at the entrances to people who flock to local open marketplaces for shopping.
In Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast, shoppers without masks were not allowed to enter marketplaces.
Local officials also warn shoppers to observe social distancing rules.
Municipalities also take similar measures for public transport. They are giving away masks to people who use inner-city buses or metro services. In Istanbul, commuters without masks are prevented from using public transport. The city’s municipality said metro services will stop at 9 p.m. starting on April 6.
Similar measures are also put into practice in other provinces, including the capital Ankara, the Black Sea province of Samsun, the northwestern province of Kocaeli.
However, despite warnings and fresh rules, there were scenes in marketplaces at the weekend in some districts of Istanbul and in the southern province of Adana where people ignored the social distancing rules and facemask requirement.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on April 4 that Turkey is producing one million protectives masks, 5,000 medical overalls and 5,000 liters of alcohol-based disinfectants every week.
On a related note, the number of people, who make daily outings, dropped significantly from early March to the final days of the month in Istanbul.
Some 75 percent of the residents in the city went out on a daily basis while 25 percent stayed at home between March 2 and March 6, but the figure for daily outings declined to 16.1 percent – around 2.5 million people – between March 23 and March 27, data from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality showed.
Hurriyet Daily News