ANKARA

Interior Ministry introduces new COVID-19 measures for Ramadan

Turkey’s Interior Ministry issued a circular on April 22 on measures that will be taken against the novel coronavirus during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

According to the circular, crowded events and tents where people would usually convene for iftar or to break their fast will not be allowed. The ministry said all necessary precautions will be taken during iftar and sahur – the meal before starting the fast at dawn – to maintain social distancing outdoors.

The temporary closure of streets that may be crowded during iftar and sahur times will be evaluated within the scope of the measures. Visits to holy shrines will be also restricted.

The municipalities will also coordinate the increase in the number of vehicles and trips via public transportation at least three hours before iftar, considering the traffic density. The selling time of pide, a traditional round and flat bread generally consumed during the fasting month, will be terminated two hours before iftar in order to prevent crowds from gathering at bakeries. Production, sales and other preparation processes will continue in bakeries after iftar hours.

Marketplaces will also be controlled to ensure that citizens follow social distancing rules and wear medical face masks. Social distancing will also be enforced among visitors to cemeteries on the eve of and during Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month, and officials will take their temperatures.

The traditional services of the Ramadan drummers, who bang on their traditional drums to wake people up for sahur every day, will be covered by the local administrations, since the collection of tips by appearing at the doorsteps of households will increase the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.

Considering that the intensity of shopping, especially for food and sweets, may increase before and during the month of Ramadan, inspections regarding the protection of social distance and the use of masks will be increased in all areas where the density may increase, especially in markets and marketplaces.

Inspections will increase for companies and businesses that might apply exorbitant prices and necessary judicial and administrative procedures will be carried out immediately.

Turkey will impose a four-day lockdown between April 23 and April 27 on 31 provinces as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The dates coincide with a national holiday and the beginning of Ramadan, with the curfew on the first two days set to allow local grocery stores and markets to open for citizens, while the food delivery services of restaurants will also be allowed.

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