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Turkey to enter ‘full lockdown’ for more than two weeks, shutting down many businesses, banning travel and forcing residents to stay at home as country grapples with spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths , said the president.

Turkey has tightened social distancing measures in recent weeks as the daily increase in coronavirus cases peaked at more than 62,000 and single-day deaths surpassed 360. The latest figures, released on Monday, showed 37,312 people diagnosed with Covid-19 and 353 deaths.

The government is looking to bring business below 5,000 to protect the $ 717 billion economy, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday evening. The measures will be the strictest in Turkey after more than a year of the pandemic.

“At a time when Europe is opening up, we need to quickly reduce our number of cases to less than 5,000 so as not to be left behind,” Erdogan said. “Otherwise, it will be inevitable that we will pay a heavy price in everything from tourism to commerce and education.”

People will be subject to a 24-hour curfew from April 30 to May 17, except for shopping, and travel between cities will be prohibited without special permission, Erdogan said. The handful of school grades that had been taught in person will revert to online instruction only. Most Turkish students have been out of class for 13 months.

Curfew waivers will be granted to supermarkets, farms, factories and supply chains.

Erdogan did not describe any state financial aid for closed businesses or workers on leave. He had argued that Turkey could not “afford” to slow down economic activity too sharply as it battled double-digit inflation, skyrocketing unemployment and declining foreign investment.

The lockdown coincides with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and the government will ban alcohol sales throughout the period, according to media reports. Some Turks on social media have accused the conservative government, which has its roots in political Islam, of using the pandemic as an “excuse” to ban alcohol consumption.

“I’m sorry to say that the sale of alcohol is banned until May 17, with the apologies of the pandemic and Ramadan,” Ozgur Aybas, president of an unlicensed trade association, said in a tweet. “It is a blow to privacy and our culture of eating and drinking.”

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