ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday a series of new measures, including full weekend lockdown, to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The weekend curfew will start at 9 p.m. on Fridays and end at 5 a.m. on Mondays, while overnight lockdown will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every weekday, Erdogan said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting.

“We take our steps carefully not to turn it into social or economic crisis,” Erdogan told reporters, noting the new measures will take effect on Tuesday.

Some businesses, including supply chain, production, health and agriculture services, will be exempt from the curfew, he said.

Groceries, slaughter houses and supermarkets will offer delivery services within the limited time frame, while cafes and restaurants will continue to be restricted to takeaway services, according to the Turkish President.

The kindergartens will be closed, Erdogan noted. Turkey has already introduced distance learning for higher-grade students until the end of the year.

Turkey has been imposing a partial lockdown for people aged over 65 and under 20, but the President on Monday added they will also not be able to use public transportation.

The citizens will be asked for their HES (Life Fits into Home) codes, a mandatory application introduced by the Ministry of Health to show citizen’s health status, when entering shopping malls. The number of people participating in weddings or funerals will be limited to 30.

Erdogan said Turkey will begin free COVID-19 vaccinations for Turkish citizens in December as the government has purchased 50 million doses for the initial phase.

In mid-November, the Turkish government reimposed partial lockdowns on weekends, closed and allowed only delivery for restaurants and cafes, introduced new working hours for businesses, and suspended all activities of gaming halls, clubs and football fields across the country.

The new restrictions have come after a fresh sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

Turkey reported on Monday 31,219 new coronavirus cases, including 6,514 symptomatic patients, as the total number of symptomatic COVID-19 patients in the country increased to 500,865.

The death toll from coronavirus in Turkey rose by 188 to 13,746, while the total recoveries climbed to 404,727 after 4,485 more patients recovered in the last 24 hours.

The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stands at 3.4 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 5,190 in the country.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case on March 11.

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