ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Turkey is reinstating the blockade of weekends in most of the Turkish provinces. It will impose restrictions on the Muslim holy month of Ramadan following a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
In Turkey, viral infections have risen less than a month after the country divided its 81 provinces into four color codes, easing restrictions in some regions under “controlled regulation” efforts. The number of confirmed daily infections has almost tripled since then to around 30,000, a record high for December. The country also reports about 150 deaths a day, up from 65 at the beginning of the month.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised address following a cabinet meeting late Monday that 58 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara, now designated as “red” or “very high-risk” areas, would be blocked. both Saturday and Sunday. The curfew will continue throughout the country over the weekend, he said.
The night curfew, which operates across the country, will continue, he said.
Only 17 provinces were in the “red” category on March 2, when schools partially resumed face-to-face education, cafes and restaurants were allowed to operate at half capacity, and weekend curfews were eased in several cities.
“The increase in the number of cases, as well as the increase in the number of deaths, is forcing us to reconsider the existing means,” Erdogan said in his address to the people. “The number of our regions in the red category, which is a very high risk category, has reached 58 – 80% of the population.”
“During the month of Ramadan, we will have to make several sacrifices,” he said, adding that restaurants and cafes will be allowed to eat only during the holy month, which begins on April 13 in Turkey.
He also announced that mass gatherings for Ramadan dishes, which were held before sunrise and sunset.
Erdogan has been widely criticized for holding his ruling party’s congresses in crowded sports complexes across the country, despite new waves of COVID-19 incidents. He was accused of double standards for ignoring the government’s rules on social exclusion. At one such event, Erdogan boasted of a crowd.
About 32,400 infections were reported in the country on Monday. The total number of cases in the country since the outbreak last year is more than 3.2 million. The death toll from COVID-19 has risen to more than 31,000.
Turkey implemented the vaccination program in January. More than 15 million shots have been fired so far. About 6.7 million people received two doses.
Follow the AP Epidemic Coverage: