New measures were announced by the government through circulars issued on November 18, 2020 and December 1, 2020. Although they were not published in the Official Gazette, the circulars were announced on the Ministry of Interior’s website as ‘notices’. Further, according to the Constitution, fundamental rights and freedoms can only be restricted by law.
These two circulars’ measures provided for different time restrictions to be applied for different ages. For example, individuals over 65-years old were allowed to go out between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm, while individuals below 20-years old were allowed to go out between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. In addition, starting from November 21, 2020, a general lockdown was announced from 9:00 pm until 5:00 am. Restaurants, cafes and patisseries were also allowed to operate for take-away services only between 10:00 am and 8:00 pm. There was further a nationwide lockdown during the New Year’s holiday from December 31, 2020 to January 4, 2021. People employed in manufacturing, supply chains, and health were exempt from the lockdown, however. Smoking was prohibited in open spaces in all provinces by the Ministry of Interior. As of December 30, 2020, all international passengers over six-years old traveling to Turkey are required to obtain a COVID-19 PCR test with a negative result within 72 hours prior to their flight.
The Ministry of Health changed the method of disclosure of COVID-19 data from all positive cases to patients with symptoms in September 2020. This approach was criticized by many parties, including Turkish Medical Association, which claimed that society needs to be informed fully and transparently. The approach was changed again to full disclosure of all positive cases with and without symptoms in October 2020.
Effective from June 6, 2020, all travelers have had to obtain a QR code via an application called HES for domestic flights and train and ferry travel. Since September 2020, having the code is mandatory in public institutions. Tracking and sharing data via the HES code may lead to violations of privacy and personal data protection, as well as discrimination based on ethnicity, age and gender.
For more details, see the ECNL-ICNL COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker’s entry for Turkey.