(Jan. 15, 2021) In December 2020 and early January 2021, Turkey’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, in accordance with presidential cabinet decisions, issued a series of orders introducing an array of measures regulating people’s mobility in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
In particular, a number of special measures were adopted to remain in effect during the New Year’s holiday between December 31 and January 4. The restrictions, except those specific to prohibiting public New Year’s celebrations, were still in effect as of January 11. The measures include the following restrictions:
Residents are not allowed to travel between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and for the whole day on weekends, starting from 9 p.m. on Fridays and ending at 5 a.m. on Mondays.
On weekends, persons over 20 and under 65 years of age are allowed to visit the local markets, general stores, groceries, butchers, fishmongers, and fruit and nut sellers closest to their residences, which are permitted to stay open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekends. Bakeries are allowed to stay open all day on weekends, and persons over 20 and under 65 are allowed to visit bakeries that are walking distance from their residences.
Since the ministry’s order of November 18, 2020, persons under 20 are allowed outside only between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., with exceptions for students enrolled in institutions that are allowed to provide in-person training, such as medical schools and technical schools offering lab-based programs. Persons over 65 are allowed outside only between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Weekend mobility restrictions were extended to the New Year holiday period between 9 p.m. on December 31 and 5 p.m. on January 4.
Persons who are over 65 and persons who are immunocompromised and are affected by the movement restrictions are to be supported in carrying out essential activities, such as shopping, cleaning, banking, and bureaucratic transactions, by Filial Piety Social Support groups composed of police, gendarmes, and social workers.
All persons whose mobility is restricted by the measures must request special permits to travel during the restriction times. These permits can be obtained online through the central government’s electronic platform.
Foreign tourists are generally exempted from the mobility restrictions.
To prevent mass-spread events, all public meetings were forbidden from 9 p.m. on December 31 to 10 a.m. on January 1, and access to avenues, boulevards, plazas, and city squares where New Year celebrations traditionally take place was barred to all persons, including foreign tourists.
Hotels and other lodging and accommodation providers were also forbidden to organize celebratory events and play live or recorded music between 9 p.m. on December 31 and 5 a.m. on January 4.
Violators of the mobility restrictions are subject to administrative fines under article 282 of the Public Hygiene Law of 1930 and criminal prosecution under article 195 of the Turkish Penal Code. Article 195 of the Code provides the offense of violating measures for the containment of contagious diseases, which is punishable by up to one year in prison. On January 11, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported in a press release that administrative procedures had been initiated against more than 35,000 persons who had violated the curfew and mobility restrictions between January 4 and January 11.