Turkey’s President declares nationwide Aidilfitri lockdown

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s President has announced a new four-day curfew during the Muslim holiday of Aidilfitri to be applied across the country to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped the restrictions would no longer be needed after the next round of lockdowns between May 23-26.

Previous weekend and national curfews were applied to a maximum of 31 provinces but this round will restrict people to their homes in 81 provinces.

The country has opted to impose short weekend and holiday curfews, instead of full lockdowns, fearing possible negative effects on the already troubled economy.

People aged over 65 and under 20 have been under full lockdown.

People wearing face masks for protection against COVID-19, walk in popular Tunali Hilmi Street during a four-day curfew declared by the government. PHOTO: AP

Erdogan announced that older people will be allowed out for several hours last Sunday for the third week running, while everyone else is inside. Children and teenagers will be allowed out for a second time this week, at allotted days and times.

The school year has ended, Erdogan said, and will resume in September.

A ban on travel to and from 15 major cities, including Istanbul, was extended for an additional 15 days.

Erdogan also announced mosques would re-open for two day-time prayers starting May 29, to be performed within social distancing rules.

The President also said the temporary release of 60,000 prisoners from minimum-security prisons in April to ease overcrowding would be extended for two more months.