Turkey has shut down cafes, theaters, public baths and even halted prayers at mosques to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, whose toll on the nation’s businesses is rapidly deepening.
Turkey on Tuesday suspended flights to six more countries, including Britain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while starting to evacuate thousands of citizens from Europe. Authorities also shut down tea houses, clubs and concert venues. The country has 47 confirmed cases of the virus and is bracing for a sustained hit to the economy as people hunker down at home.
The number of visitors to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest covered markets, has plummeted and the bazaar might be temporarily shut down, the head of its administration, Fatih Kurtulmus, told state-run Anadolu Agency on Sunday. Production and staffing hours are down at many businesses that remain open. Turkish carmaker Ford Otosan said it will suspend production at its Golcuk plant between March 30 and April 4 due to disruptions at production facilities abroad.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak had earlier pledged financial measures to ensure access to liquidity in the country.
On the law enforcement front, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said all non-urgent court hearings were postponed from Monday, and notary services were suspended. Dozens of people were investigated for allegedly posting commentary on social media about the virus, on the ground they spread fear and public panic.
Turkey Shuts Schools, Bans Sports Spectators to Counter Virus
Turkey has placed about 10,000 citizens who returned from a religious pilgrimage to Mecca under quarantine after tracing a confirmed case to the Saudi Arabia trip. The country is now preparing to place thousands more citizens who would be evacuated from Europe under quarantine as well.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to announce further steps to limit the spread of the virus and its economic fallout on Wednesday.
Originally they were set to meet in Istanbul, but the health emergency forced a change in plans.
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--With assistance from Cagan Koc and Ugur Yilmaz.
To contact the reporters on this story: Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at firstname.lastname@example.org;Firat Kozok in Ankara at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mark Williams, Paul Abelsky
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