Turkey to relax quarantine rules for citizens returning from abroad

Instead of completing quarantine in dormitories across Turkey, arrivals from abroad will be allowed to isolate at home for two weeks.

al-monitor A passenger wears a protective face mask upon arrival at Turkey's Istanbul Airport, March 13, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Florion Goga.

May 20, 2020

With infection rates on the decline throughout much of Turkey, the government will loosen quarantine restrictions for citizens returning from abroad, the country’s state-owned news agency reported today.

Under the current rules, Turkish citizens are required to spend 14 days in quarantine in student dorms where they undergo medical checks for signs of COVID-19. Returnees will now self-quarantine for two weeks at their homes, reports Reuters, citing Anadolu Agency. 

At least 9,700 citizens are in isolation in dormitories across 76 provinces, Youth and Sport Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said today. Most recently, 157 Turks from Germany and 53 returning from Tanzania were evacuated on chartered flights and put under 14-day quarantines. 

"Following the instructions from our president, we are hosting our guests from all corners of the world in our dormitories," Kasapoglu said, referring to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey registered 972 more cases of the coronavirus today; Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said this was the first day since March 25 that the number had fallen below 1,000. He also said this week that the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is declining. As of today, Turkey has recorded 152,587 coronavirus cases and 4,222 deaths from the virus. 

The government has introduced a “normalization plan” to slowly reopen the economy without “losing gains made.” Shopping malls, barbershops and some stores have so far reopened with strict social distancing measures in place.

While still grappling with the pandemic at home, Turkey sent a shipment of personal protective equipment to the United States last month. On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed COVID-19 cooperation during a phone call with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and thanked him for Turkey’s “generous donation.” 

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