Turkey, where the first case of COVID-19 was detected on March 11, 2020, has entered a “controlled normalization process” after one year with strict measures. 

After COVID-19, which originated in China, turned into a global pandemic, many countries around the world took measures to reduce mass mobility to stop the spread of the virus.

Turkey’s first step in this direction was to close air traffic with some countries before March 11, when its first case was observed.

Immediately after the first case appeared, strict measures were put in place.

Education was decommissioned, cafes, bars, restaurants and public places such as shopping malls, libraries and places of worship were temporarily closed, and public events were canceled.

Citizens were urged to “stay at home” and advised to avoid social contact and work remotely if possible, and public institutions and private companies took measures in this direction.

Curfew and inter-city transport restrictions were imposed and quarantine measures were implemented.

The dates of the course of the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey and related measures are as follows:

– Feb. 29, 2020: Effective from midnight, all passenger flights between Turkey and Italy, Turkey and South Korea and Turkey and Iraq were stopped as a precaution.

– March 11, 2020: The first case of COVID-19 was detected in Turkey.

– March 12, 2020: It was decided that sports competitions will be played without audiences until the end of April.

– March 13, 2020: 10,330 citizens who returned from Saudi Arabia, where they went to make Umrah, were quarantined two days after the first case was detected.

– March 14, 2020: To combat the COVID-19 outbreak, Turkey closed all border gates to passengers from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.

– March 16, 2020: Face-to-face education in elementary, secondary and high schools was suspended.

Private nursery, daycare homes and private children’s clubs were put on holiday until a new announcement.

Activities at pavilions, discotheques, bars and nightclubs were temporarily halted.

A visitor restriction was imposed on all nursing homes.

Libraries affiliated with the Culture and Tourism Ministry were closed to service.

Friday prayers were suspended at all mosques, including prayers with the congregation.

– March 17, 2020: Since midnight, theaters, cinema halls, performing arts centers, concert halls, engagement-wedding halls, restaurants, cafes, casinos, pubs, taverns, coffee shops, cafeterias, tea gardens, internet cafes, all game rooms, indoor children’s play areas, association clubhouses, amusement parks, swimming pools, hammams, massage saloons and spa and fitness centers stopped being active.

NGO general assemblies, training and all kinds of meetings in which people came together collectively and the activities of condolence houses where citizens coexisted collectively were also postponed.

Flights to China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Iraq were suspended without incident in Turkey, while flights to nine other countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands were halted.

– March 21, 2020: Turkey expands flight suspensions to a total of 68 countries.

– The activities of barber shops, hairdressers and beauty centers were stopped, and it was decided that mass soldier send-off ceremonies would not be allowed.

– March 22, 2020: As of midnight, citizens aged 65 and older as well as those with chronic conditions were restricted from leaving their residences.

– March 23, 2020: Students began to continue their education from home via the internet and television channels.

– March 27, 2020: Long-distance travel was connected to a governor’s permit, the private sector switched to a flexible work system and foreign flights were halted.

– April 4, 2020: From midnight in 30 metropolitan areas and Zonguldak province on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, where lung ailments are common, entry and exit was banned.

A curfew restriction imposed on people aged 65 and older is extended to include young people and children under the age of 20.

Masks are required at the entrances to bazaar spaces, markets and workplaces where people work collectively.

– April 7, 2020: The “Social Sciences Board” was created to combat COVID-19.

– April 10-12, 2020: The first curfew restriction was applied in Zonguldak province, where lung diseases are common, with 30 metropolitan areas.

– April 18, 2020: As part of the fight against COVID-19, the Health Ministry introduced a mobile application, “Life Fits Home” (Hayat Eve Sigar), in which citizens can look at risk situations in their regions and track their own health.

– April 23, 2020: The outbreak saw the first peak of the first wave.

– May 10, 2020: The period of “controlled social life” began. Citizens aged 65 and over, who were restricted from going out on the streets from March 22, went out with a time limit after a 50-day break. Children aged 14 and under were allowed on streets for the first time on May 13 and children and teenagers aged 15-20 were allowed on streets for the first time on May 15.

– May 11, 2020: Within the scope of “controlled social life,” barbers, hairdressers and beauty centers, shopping malls, market places, restaurants and cafes have started to operate, provided that the determined measures are implemented.

– May 27, 2020: Hotels and hostels began to accept guests by taking COVID-19 measures.

– May 29, 2020: The first Friday prayers were held approximately 2.5 months after the restriction of mass worship.

– June 1, 2020: In the process of the COVID-19 epidemic, the period of “New Normalization” began.

Public employees who are on administrative leave or involved in a flexible working system have moved on to the normal working period.

The intercity travel restriction has been completely lifted. Nurseries and daycare homes were all opened. Businesses such as restaurants, cafes and bakeries as well as museums, beaches, national parks and gardens were operational within the established rules.

Private pre-school educational institutions, foreign language, computer and driving courses were opened.

The instruction that public transport and personnel services in the city will be accepted as passengers at the rate of 50% of the passenger carrying capacity specified in the vehicle license has been repealed.

– June 15, 2020: Wedding halls are operational under certain conditions.

– July 1, 2020: Cinemas, theaters, show centers and wedding halls began to serve the public in accordance with the rules.

– July 21, 2020: Restrictions on the working hours of businesses such as restaurants, cafes and tea gardens were lifted.

– Aug. 26, 2020: Employees in public institutions and organizations were provided with the opportunity to work flexibly, such as remote work, alternating work.

– Sept. 2, 2020: Street/village weddings, circumcision ceremonies, henna nights and engagement ceremonies were restricted throughout the country.

– Oct. 12, 2020: Face-to-face education for second, third, fourth, eighth and 12th grades started.

– Nov. 17, 2020: Restriction decisions were made again with the increase in new case numbers.

-Nov. 20, 2020: It was decided to continue formal, private and non-formal education activities with distance education until Monday, Jan. 4.

A COVID-19 vaccine of Chinese origin, which started Phase 3 studies in Turkey, also began to be administered to volunteer citizens after volunteer health workers.

Takeaway services were introduced at restaurants and cinemas and entertainment venues were closed.

A curfew was declared between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. (0700 – 1700 GMT) on the weekend and a curfew was imposed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (0700 – 1000 GMT) on weekdays for people aged over 65 and at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (1000 – 1300 GMT) on weekdays for those aged under 20.

– Nov. 25, 2020: Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced for the first time the “number of cases,” expressing those who tested positive for COVID-19. As of this date, the number of those whose PCR tests were positive in one day was 28,351.

– Nov. 28, 2020: Health Minister Koca stated that they have made the first agreements on a COVID-19 vaccine and that negotiations with alternative manufacturers are continuing.

– Dec. 1, 2020: A curfew restriction began throughout the country which will be applied on weekdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. (1800 – 0200 GMT) until a new decision.

– Dec. 7, 2020: Quarantine period for close contacts reduced from 14 days to 10 days. The second peak in the course of the disease was seen in the first week of December.

– Jan. 2, 2021: Variants of the COVID-19 virus found in England, South Africa and Brazil were first detected in Turkey.

– Jan. 13, 2021: As part of social immunization, Health Minister Koca and members of the Scientific Board received the first dose of the CoronaVac vaccine.

– Jan. 14, 2021: In accordance with the vaccination schedule, health workers received the first dose of the CoronaVac vaccine and the vaccination process was implemented according to the priority order set by the Health Ministry.

– Feb. 8, 2021: Quarantine period for close contacts of variant strains was set at 10 days and isolation was decided to end if PCR test negative at the end of 10 days.

– Feb. 15, 2021: Face-to-face education began in village schools and preschools.

In the fight against COVID-19, the period of “decentralization” began. As the first application of this period, the 7-day case numbers table (Weekly case numbers according to provinces) on a provincial basis covering Feb. 8-14 related to the outbreak was shared with the public for the first time on the COVID-19 information page of the Ministry of Health.

– March 1, 2021: Within the scope of the “decision on the spot” period practices, provincial sanitation boards were allowed to make regional decisions in the provinces divided into risk groups related to COVID-19.

– March 2, 2021: The process of “Controlled Normalization” began.

In this context, curfew restrictions according to the risk situations in the provinces and in what conditions food and drink places can serve were explained.

Again, according to the risk situation of the provinces, it was determined which levels of students would start face-to-face education under what conditions.

In the context of “Controlled Normalization,” measures on the basis of provinces were either loosened or increased on issues such as swimming pools and similar facilities.

*Writing by Merve Berker

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