Turkey’s Erdogan announces lockdown in 31 provinces for next weekend

Access Bank Plc

Turkey President Recep Erdogan on Monday announced a lockdown in 31 cities and provinces for next weekend after a recent surprise curfew order prompted thousands to rush out in a panic-buying frenzy.

Erdogan said in a televised address, after a cabinet meeting, that the 48-hour curfew would begin at midnight on Friday (2100 GMT).

A similar lockdown aimed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus was announced a mere two hours before going into effect last Friday.

It triggered widespread chaos as residents took to the streets in the thousands to buy supplies, ignoring all social distancing measures in place.

Preparing residents well in advance this time, Erdogan also said that weekend curfews would continue for as long as is needed.

He urged people to stay home even as the spring weather makes the outdoors tempting.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu on Sunday tendered his resignation after the botched start to the partial lockdown, but it was rejected by Erdogan.

The weekend lockdown includes Turkey’s most-populous city and financial hub Istanbul and national capital Ankara.

In total it covers 64 million people in the country of 83 million.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said there were 98 deaths from the Covid-19 disease in the last 24 hours, bringing the nationwide toll to 1,296.

In the same period, 4,093 people tested positive, raising the number of confirmed cases to 61,049 since March 11.