Istanbul, Ankara and other major Turkish cities locked down for two days to combat the spread of the coronavirus under an Interior Ministry order, as the country’s death toll from the pandemic rose above 1,000 on Saturday.
The restrictions were imposed in 31 provinces across the country and scaled up existing curbs, under which people under the age of 20 and over 65 have been told to stay at home.
Turkey has also halted all international flights, restricted domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes, and suspended mass prayers. But people have still been going to work to sustain economic activity.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 increased by 4,747 and 98 people died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 1,006.
Detailing specifics of the lockdown in a subsequent statement, the Interior Ministry said bakeries, pharmacies and health facilities would be among places excluded from the ban, enabling people to meet essential needs.
Long queues for supplies before curfew
Meanwhile, people rushed into the streets in parts of Turkey, forming long lines outside grocery stores minutes after the government announced a two-day curfew in 31 cities to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Just hours before the curfew came into effect, people were seen queuing outside stores in panic, many ignoring social distancing rules, the private DHA news agency reported.
Fighting erupted in at least one district in Istanbul, the Halk TV television station reported.
The government later announced that bakeries, pharmacies and other stores selling basic goods would remain open despite the curfew.
The curfew was announced amid concerns that with fine weather predicted over the weekend, many would ignore a government advice to stay at home.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Turkey has registered 47,029 cases of the coronavirus with more than 1,000 deaths, as of Saturday morning.