When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Turkey, do whatever you please — but only if you are a tourist. According to some latest news reports, just like many other countries, Turkey has also been witnessing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, and to bring things under control, the country’s capital Istanbul instituted a lockdown, which is in force on weekends only — between 9.00 pm on Fridays and 5.00 am on Mondays.
But, this lockdown does not apply to international tourists — it is for local residents only. According to a New York Times report, most museums stayed open for visitors, and hotel restaurants were allowed to remain open, but only for guests. In fact, the lockdown was monitored by police, who checked IDs to make sure locals stayed home. Anyone found flouting the norm was fined.
An Insider report mentions that while Turkey is seeing a massive surge in coronavirus cases, tourists entering the country remain undeterred. Turkey does not require tourists to quarantine or show negative test results either. It reopened its borders in June. While the US Embassy and Consulate in Turkey said tourists are checked for symptoms on arrival and must self-isolate if suspected of having COVID-19, the ground reality is different.
While it is understood the government wishes to keep its travel and tourism industry afloat, some locals are not pleased with the developments.
“People are not happy. They think that there should be a lockdown for everyone. The tourists are bringing more cases. The government doesn’t care about cases. They just want people to just come here and spend some money,” a travel guide in Istanbul was quoted as telling the outlet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), meanwhile, has warned that “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19”. It advises that people stay at home as much as possible.