Despite grim initial predictions, Turkey managed to avoid a covid-19 worst-case scenario. Their strategy, which can be called a “partial lock-down”, involved awareness and discipline from citizens and government alike. In the end, it paid off.

With a population of 83 million — 2.5 million tested for coronavirus, 176,677 confirmed cases and 4,792 deceased — Turkey is one of a handful of countries not completely devastated by the pandemic.

Starting 1 June, bans for intercity travel were lifted and restaurants, parks and sports venues began a tentative reopening. On 9 June, lock-down restrictions ended for the more heavily policed age groups: children and people over 65.

I spoke with Ebru Afat, news planning producer at TRT World, to find out more about the measures implemented and how Turkey fared through the pandemic.

In the beginning

Following the first confirmed case on 11 March, the Turkish government suspended shut down primary and secondary schools, and later universities, too, on 16 March.

Public places such as cafes, shopping centres and hairdressers were immediately shuttered. All public events such as conferences, exhibitions and concerts were cancelled. Communal prayers at mosques were banned.

Citizens have been called to stay at home and practice social distancing. The private sector was encouraged to work from home and in shifts, if possible. Civil servants have been working remotely and in shifts as well.

People under 20 and over 65 years old were not allowed to leave home for the majority of lock-down. Intercity travel bans and weekend curfews worked as an extra measure to prevent the virus from spreading even further.

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Partial lock-down

Turkey’s strategy can be called partial lock-down. This way, we were able to keep parts of the economy functioning while still trying to contain the outbreak.

Once all the essential industries were protected, Turkey could focus on producing medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, drugs and ventilators. We even sent medical help to more than 50 countries worldwide.

Since the gradual lifting of lock-down, which started on 11 May, Turkish people are urged to continue following the rules.

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Awareness and discipline

For the most part, people adhered to lock-down restrictions. The biggest ones have been wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from others on public transport and while shopping. These guidelines are still respected, especially in major cities.

Other notable measures include frequent hand-washing and even using cologne as sanitiser in a pinch, and are still widely implemented. Most people seem to be aware of the gravity of the situation, mostly thanks to the media’s extensive coverage of the pandemic in Italy, Spain and France, and didn’t need much convincing to follow lock-down rules.

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