Smoking in public places has been banned by local officials across Turkey in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.
The local authority in the eastern province of Mus was the latest to introduce the restrictions, following others including Van, Erzincan, Kastamonu, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Karaman, Çankırı, Kahramanmaraş and Ordu, Anadolu said.
Smoking will be banned in public spaces including streets, squares and parks.
“Violators of the ban will be fined in accordance with General Public Hygiene Law and Turkish Penal Code,” Anadolu said, citing officials in Mus.
The measures come as concerns grow over the resurging infection rate across the country. According to official figures, there were 2,311 new “patients” diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total to 386,820. Since July, the Ministry of Health has only included those it deems “patients”, rather than all positive cases, in the data it releases.
On Tuesday, the government announced that businesses such as hairdressers, cinemas and swimming pools must close before 10 p.m., at which point restaurants and cafes will only be permitted to provide a takeaway service.
But critics say the restrictions do not go far enough to help. Speaking to Deutsche Welle Turkish, Dr İbrahim Akkurt, a member of the Turkish Medical Association’s (TTB) central committee, said the disease was mainly being spread during in business and transport during working hours.
“I do not think it is possible that any measures taken after 22:00 will contribute to breaking the chain of infection,” he said.