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04/07/2020

Last week in Turkey: Implementation of new Covid-19 measures

Last week in Turkey:  Implementation of new Covid-19 measures

As is the case in the rest of the world, Turkey continues its struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Turkey has so far registered 27,069 coronavirus cases, while the death toll stands at 574.

Last Friday, President Erdogan announced new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including a 15-day ban on vehicles leaving or entering 31 cities.

Cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir are all affected by the new restriction.

Starting last Friday, police tightened existing controls at city borders.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, security forces have rejected pleas of those hoping to travel with minor exceptions for vehicles carrying basics and medical supplies.

In addition to the curfew, which was already set for citizens older than 65 years and those who suffer from chronic illnesses, the Turkish government has now also set restrictions for those younger than 20, telling them not to leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary.

Those who are employed in an official capacity are also excluded from this restriction.

In his speech, President Erdogan also declared that wearing-face masks in crowded areas is mandatory and that the gatherings of crowds in open spaces will not be allowed.

Opposition groups still criticize the government for not declaring a general curfew.

Furthermore, the economic measures taken by the government are widely seen as more protective for employers than workers.

Another subject of dispute between the government and the opposition is the collection of the charity donations for those affected by Covid-19.

President Erdogan and the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara have made separate calls to the public to collect charity donations to distribute to families with insufficient financial resources.

The calls of the mayors of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu and Ankara, Mansur Yavas, both members of main opposition party CHP, stand directly against the government and figures like Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

Soylu declared these calls to the public illegal, and shortly afterward, the bank accounts of the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities were blocked by court sentence.

On the other hand, the PKK and the FETO terrorist organizations have started a campaign for general amnesty via social media, pushing for the court to release imprisoned militants… however, this campaign did not pick up steam among the Turkish public.

The economy is another serious topic to look at in relation to the Covid-19 crisis.

The government has taken several measures, including a six-month deferral of tax payments for certain sectors, including retails, shopping malls, accommodation, logistics-transportation, food-beverage, textile-garments, iron-steelworks and the automotive industry.

Implementation of the accommodation tax will be postponed from April 2020 to November 2020.

Employers in certain sectors are being allowed to postpone social security contributions for the months of April, May and June by up to 6 months.

Other economic measures have also been taken for the benefit of employers and workers. However, these measures are still considered to predominantly benefit employers.

Under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, political, social and economic debates continue in Turkey.

 
Onur Sinan Güzaltan
Onur Sinan Güzaltan was born in Istanbul in 1985. He had his Bachelors's degree in Law, from the Paris-Est Créteil Val de Marne Universty /Paris XII and a Master's degree in International and European Law. He got his certificate of diploma equivalence at Galatasaray University. Later, he got a Master's degree in International Trade Law, at the Institut de Droit des Affaires Internationales, founded jointly by the Sorbonne Universty and the Cairo Universty. In this process, he had served as the Cairo representative for the Aydinlik Newspaper. He has several articles and television streams within the international press, in such as People's Daily, Al Yaum, Al Ahram, Russia Today FranceAl Youm Al Sabea. In addition to being the author of the Tanrı Bizi İster Mi?, a work that studies the 2011-2013 political period in Egypt, he had also contributed to the multi-author study titled Ortadoğu Çıkmazında Türkiye, with an article that focused on the Turkish-Egyptian relations. While currently working as a lawyer, he also writes a weekly column for Aydinlik Newspaper on the subject of international politics and geopolitics.

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