Turkey banned smoking in crowded public places on Wednesday to slow down the recent surge in symptomatic coronavirus patients. Warning citizens to abide by protective measures, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said that all should follow the nationwide mask mandate in public spaces at all times. Smokers were routinely violating the mask rule.
The ministry issued a statement saying that “According to a previously issued instruction, in all public places, except for residential buildings, citizens are required to wear masks without any exceptions. But when smoking in such places, some people take off their masks, lower them down, not using them correctly. For this reason, to ensure that masks are worn at all times and properly, as of November 12, 2020, a smoking ban will be imposed in areas and regions such as streets and avenues where citizens are or can be crowded together, necessary public squares and public transportation stops.”
Turkey has seen a spike in infections since lifting partial lockdowns and reopening businesses in late May. Health Minister FahrettinKoca had said that the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey had reached its second peak. The country reported 2,693 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the total reported cases to above 400,000. The latest Health Ministry figures show 86 new fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,145. Ankara only reports the number of cases that exhibit symptoms, a decision widely criticised for hiding the country’s true scale.
Earlier this week, a partial lockdown was also imposed in some provinces, including the capital Ankara and its largest city Istanbul, on citizens over 65, banning them from being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Last week, President Tayyip Erdogan had announced that all businesses, including restaurants, cafes, pools, and cinemas, would close by 10 p.m. daily as part of measures against the pandemic.