Turkey imposes curfew on youths amid COVID-19 outbreak

Turkish president issues partial curfew for those under 20 and shuts borders of 31 cities to halt coronavirus spread.

    Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant at the Grand Bazaar to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul, Turkey [Umit Bektas/Reuters]
    Workers in protective suits spray disinfectant at the Grand Bazaar to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul, Turkey [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has imposed a partial curfew for citizens under the age of 20 as part of measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

    The mandatory confinement is due to come into effect at midnight on Friday, Erdogan said in a televised address, adding that Ankara also decided to close down borders of 31 cities for vehicles - excluding essential supplies.

    Vehicles will no longer be able to leave or enter the cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, for 15 days, he said, adding that mask usage will be obligatory in crowded places.

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    Turkey's death toll from the outbreak rose to 425 on Friday, while the number of confirmed cases from the disease rose to over 20,000, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

    "We have decided to bring partial curfew into effect for people under the age of 20 as of midnight Friday," Erdogan said.

    "The shutdown of city borders will be in effect for 15 days initially. However, this period can be extended if necessary," Erdogan told a news conference.

    Ankara has halted all international flights, limited domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes and suspended mass prayers to counter the outbreak. But people are still going to work, as Erdogan seeks to sustain economic production and exports.

    People above 65 years of age or those with chronic medical conditions are already subject to obligatory confinement.

    Calls for Istanbul lockdown

    Istanbul's Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has been urging the government to impose a strict lockdown in the city, which is home to nearly 16 million people. 

    Unal Cevikoz, deputy chair of the Republican People's Party - the main opposition party in Turkey - told Al Jazeera on Friday there has been an increase in the number of infections "every two days".

    "Istanbul seems to be the epicentre … it is growing with a serious expediential rate," Cevikoz said

    Erdogan had not imposed a total lockdown in a bid to keep the country's economy afloat, but the economy has "already slowed down" because of the recession, Cevikoz said.

    "Most of the shops are still open [in Istanbul] … we are all expecting a peak in the number of cases and deaths," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies